Romance novels are designed for a specific audience. Namely, my mom, who reads romance. She'll read a book a week. She wants a story that's easy to get in to, isn't too complicated, is full of steamy scenes and promises a good plot. She doesn't care much for details or strong writing or getting caught up in the heads of the characters. She likes the bad guys to be bad, the good guys to be sexy and the women to end up with them.
To reach Mom and the many other readers like her, writers are expected to adhere to certain expectations:
The boy and girl must meet ASAP.
They can't be married/attached to someone else. Read: no infidelity.
They must spend most of the book together.
Heavy themes, like suicide, are better left out.
The women must be overwhelmingly strong.
And, a Happily Ever After ending is imperative.
I didn't write such a book. I wrote something more akin to Historical Fan Fiction, if there is such a genre, with a strong romantic element. I wrote a book with fewer fairy-tale qualities than "ever after." Swashbuckling, yes. Pumpkin carriages, not so much. I want men to read my book. Definitely. The sex is not gratuitous but a crucial part of the storyline. I'm told my rule-breaking will make selling the story more difficult.
Will it? Hmm, once it's published, readers can decide if it is satisfying. Did my mom read it? Of course. And that's a therapy session in the works.