Romance is a word of many historical meanings. Starting with the Chivalric Romance, where it meant "work written in the vernacular." From that, it derived the meaning of tales of drama, adventure, and larger than life characters and often magical elements and strange monsters. Hence, writers speak of Shakespeare's romances, and Planetary Romance, and Ruritanian Romance. It is the source of the name of Romanticism. To this day, "romantic" is used as a contrast to "realistic" from the movement.

But nowadays, the commonest meaning is that the Romance genre is about people falling in love. The genre is much more complicated than simply sighs, embraces, and bodice ripping wrapped in a lurid Romance Novel book jacket. A romance focuses on the interpersonal relationships of characters and how those actions, thoughts, and circumstances drive people apart and bring them back together.

See Love Tropes for many of the tropes typical of the Romance genre.