Even after all this time, I’m still often asked that question. The answer could be open to interpretation. Everyone has an opinion. All I can offer is mine. Any healthy, nurturing, positive Dominant/submissive relationship must be a romance. In other words, for ME, it must be based in love. Therefore, it is a romance.
It’s my understanding the book was written as a young woman’s fantasy. A scary, fun, captivating love story featuring a strong, sexy, wealthy dominant who used her as he wished, and trained her to be his submissive.
When you read it, or watch the film, you see the romance develop. D/s relationships, like all relationships, are unique. You may not see it as a romance that would suit you, but yes, it’s still a romance.