"The description seems to be all about raw sexuality, passion, and eroticism which is...not what this story is about."
I'm going to confirm what your market research is telling you: your story does not sound like it belongs in the Romance genre, paranormal or otherwise.
It sounds like you have a world where a certain specific combination of magic objects (colored gemstones, for instance) should not come together or bad stuff will happen. Thanks to literary foreshadowing, certain people know in advance that it will be bad – a prophesy from an ancient order of mystical acolytes maybe, or it happened once before, long long ago – anyway there is lore and world-building involved and for generations the faithful have dedicated their lives to preventing this bad thing from ever happening.
Naturally, your story is about what happens when those magic objects come together.
This is a stock Fantasy Genre conflict
Your story is more interesting than 'stock' because your colored gemstones are characters who have agency and hormones – it sounds like a lot of fun, but this is still a stock Fantasy conflict that will very likely play out according to the rules and logic of the genre.
You may be a little too close to your own work to see it that way, and I am reducing your synopsis to make it more obvious, but consider the following:
Murder mysteries are more than a detective and an unsolved homicide. There is a structure to the genre that is uniquely formed around the solving of a murder. The core conflict is the mystery itself. The story concludes when the mystery is solved.
Horror genre is not about werwolves and vampires, those old tropes have lost the ability to scare us, and have been recast as stand-ins for abusive boyfriends (toxic elements that were always there, they've just been domesticated). Horror has only one rule: to scare. A horror story is constructed around that one purpose. Too-familiar tropes actually work against this.
Likewise comedy has one purpose so the conflicts and resolution of any comedic story serves that purpose. Logic and reality can take a back seat. The ending should be funny, the beginning and middle too, or it's just not a comedy.
Structure and conflict in Romance genre
The structure of a Romance (with a capital R) is built around the conflicts inherent to relationships, but amped up to horny-11. In reductive terms, the core structure of every Romance (capital R) is whether the couple will 'work out' their issues, expressed by encountering stock Romance conflicts.
Stock Romance conflicts include: financial power games, psychological manipulation, autonomy and independence, objectification and force, unresolved sexual hang-ups, seduction and revenge, FOMO, and most importantly, rivalry.
Romance endings are often a plateau rather than a resolution. Couples find a kind of equilibrium where they learn trust and keep their worst instincts in check, or break apart to avoid volatility, but they are not 'cured' of the traits that made them rich and sexy in the first place.
Your Fantasy novel has a power couple in it, but are these the type of Romance conflicts that motivate the characters and drive the story? If they work out their toxic relationship issues, does it save the world?
How to insert Romance conflicts earlier in the novel
You don't have to fit neatly inside a genre box, but if you want to firmly lean into the Romance genre you will need conflicts that are appropriate, and they will need to be present from the start.
how do I signal to the readers to expect significant
romance as a part of this story? I'm not sure how paranormal romance
signals genre expectations to readers compared to regular romance;
I've seen how regular romance stories do it (e.g., most Hallmark
movies) but it doesn't seem to translate well to a paranormal romance
or otherwise fantasy setting.
This is not a Hallmark or a rom-com. You are building a Fantasy world. If you want something included, world-build it in.
- Does your world include the stock acolyte/jedi/knights and do they sometimes
struggle to remain 'pure'?
- If this all happened before, how steamy are those ancient texts?
Wouldn't the forbidden details be a temptation? (it's a 2-fer, sexytime and world-building)
- Is there a force in this world (secret society) trying to trigger the
apocalypse? What happens at their annual meetings? Do they act out what they believe the apocalypse will look like?
- Who is our protagonist? What is their inciting incident, or their
field of expertise? What do they experience early-on that makes them
uniquely qualified to guide us through this story? What are their
personal stakes? How are they conflicted with their ideals?
- Assuming your power couple are chosen ones, how innate is their sexuality? Are they indulging in power games way beyond their years? Is there some taint of horny evil that effects the caretakers?
- If "life, uh, finds a way", are there maybe flare-ups of paranormal horniness being expressed as a sign of the coming end-of-days? What is the experience of the characters who try to warn everyone? Does society treat them like sidewalk preachers or televangelists? Is there a schism within society that echoes the themes this couple will encounter?
Not that kind of Romance
If I had to give a pitch to get people interested in the series it
would focus on that relationship as the most interesting part of the
story and why the reader should care about it.
Maybe the goal is more about 'star-crossed lovers' from opposite sides of the train tracks. Their families are a different religion, but they meet cute at a party and before you know it there is blood in the streets. Society is cruel but love will save the day.
This is not Romance genre (capital R) it is a Love Story, specifically idealized love, innocent and uncorrupted torn apart by society – doesn't mean it isn't brutal – Romeo and Juliet come to bad ends, but so do the couple in Orwell's 1984. No one would call that a 'romance', though.
You might re-consider how you pitch your series. It's not Romance erotic games for adults, it's more West-Side Story Chronicles, or specific influence meets other specific influence.
Nevertheless you have the same question: How to introduce that conflict earlier in the story.
The conflicts frame the couple together against societal pressures and outside forces that drive them apart, therefore you will need to signal this conflict early using characters who exist.
Assuming established 'houses' like Capulet/vampires and Montague/werwolves, find characters who are conflicted, who've strayed and been punished or avoided near-misses, put the lore in action by establishing the rules before you break them.
Macrocosm-microcosm works well with world-building so find small every-day examples to show how certain loves are forbidden, and how society has suffered by polarizing the divide.
On the Fantasy/magic spectrum, find ways to show the dangers of bringing volatile elements together, but again use living characters not just lore dumps. This should apply to your series as a whole. Hints of all those later conflicts need seed-examples in your world-building stage. You are setting up foils which will be undone by your lovers, but the reader needs some emotions and memories associated with those foils to care about them later.