What’s Wrong With a Happy Ending?

I loved the comments I got last week when part 9 of Burden posted and my readers were excited that Stefan proposed.  It seemed that everyone thought it fit with the plot, that it was a good idea to make it part of a plan, and that it was exciting that the two main characters were getting together.

Thus I was a bit confused at this week’s comments.  The general feeling I got was that readers were glad the couple got together, but it was too fast, too easy.  They are waiting to see where the trouble arises.

While I am going to avoid revealing the rest of Burden (there are 3 more posts left on the story) I would like to take this opportune moment to ask: what’s wrong with a happy ending?

Granted, when the relationship is the plot you can’t have things work out quickly or easily.  When the romance between a couple is a major plot-driver, like Richard and Kahlan in Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule, things have to be difficult.  I swear that pairing was one of the hardest to read – so much of the entire epic series hinged on the two of them having extreme romance issues.  I even understand that using a troubled romance is a good way to set up characters to resolve major plot issues, like Talia and Dirk in Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar trilogy.

If, however, the relationship is simply a subplot, or the characters need to be teamed together anyway, what’s wrong with a good, easy pairing?  It happens all the time in action movies: the main characters male and female work together through the movie with only the occasional sexual tension moments, and then at the end they get together.  Think The Italian Job or National Treasure.  The plot, the conflict, the struggle is in the challenge they are facing – the relationship is just icing on the cake.  I know these are movie examples, but can’t it work like this in books and stories, too?

I am not a flowers and rainbows person when it comes to my stories.  I know that people have to face challenges, characters we like have to die, and things won’t always work out how we hope.  But does everything have to be difficult for a story to be good?  Or can the people we like have things fall right into place once in a while?