Another difference I see is the tone of the story. If it is light-hearted fluff, flirtation, and cutesy games, it's probably romance. If a large part of the story is dedicated to fashion, romantic settings, and flowery descriptions, again it's romance. If the story is filled with improbably dramatic inventions calculated to bring on tears, it's the worst sort of romance. Love stories often invite a tear or two also, but they come about more from a tender moment of identifying with the character rather than the creation of tear-trigger scenes. Love stories are usually more serious than romances; they are of a broader and grander scope.
There are few novels in any genre that are completely lacking in romance or love. Relationships are one of the most compelling sources of human emotion for good or evil. It would be naive to think elements of romance wouldn't appear in stories that are primarily mystery, suspense, western, historical, science-fiction, or fantasy. In our LDS culture the eternal companionship of a man and a woman are of paramount importance. Our eternal future depends on such relationships, so it would be unrealistic to leave this aspect of the human experience out of our novels. In much of today's general market fiction, physical attraction plays the key role in Romance and sex is a cheap substitute for love. For this reader, such novels are a disappointment.
There are still a few romance novels around in the LDS market, but real love stories have almost disappeared. Recently a few authors have produced stylized romances which are fun to read, but leave no lasting imprint. The sob-sister stuff sells in large quantities in both the LDS and national market. Some of the best love stories are hidden in the pages of other genres, but there are few novels today devoted primarily to true love stories.
It's human nature for those who are immature to laugh at what makes them nervous, ridicule what they don't understand, and to feel embarrassed by tender emotions. Unfortunately the romance novel and love story are often the recipients of this kind of scorn. I find this unfortunate, since this is certainly an age that could stand more attention to the gestures and polite forms of romance as well as the deeper caring, sacrifice, and appreciation of genuine love.
Happy Valentines' Day all.