I've read seven romance novels in the past two weeks. They aren't something I normally reach for but they were lying around the apartment (in that box full of books I purchased for a dollar).
After my experience in the land of licking and lace, I can tell you the novels that caught my attention had to have MORE than smoldering glances, troubled pasts and misunderstandings. If the passion erupts as zombies rise or a murder mystery is afoot, I'm much more content with the love.
And that's really too bad because, from a writer's standpoint, romance is a great genre to study because of the complex (if done well) emotional push-and-pull between characters. You have (in a good romance novel) nearly every single emotion at one time or another playing out, sometimes several at once. You can see what works and what doesn't.
But the emotion can ruin your story. Gloss over too much and your characters lie flat. Give too much emotion and they walk around in a constant state of severe anger, arousal, etc. Many current love stories fall into the latter, vintage romance the former.
Current romance has more graphic sex, too, which can be fun if someone is uncomfortable. And you KNOW when an author is uncomfortable with their characters' intimate moments because they hide behind throbbing love tools and swampy tunnels. (At least, I HOPE that's the reason behind those passages of sadistic eye-bleed.) If you can't write a good sex scene, close the door on them while they finally give in to that "geyser of intense, sweet passion".
What are your favorite romance novels (not mixed with any other genre)? What genres do you have trouble reading?