I've often been accused of being quite cruel to my characters, most notably while writing Locked Within. It's fair; I do tend to put my heroes trough some real baptisms by fire. I like seeing the hero triumph through supreme adversity, getting their backs to the wall with no easy way out and so much to lose if they fail.
But as a reader I've also had more than one occassion where I feel like I want to scream at the author for putting my beloved heroes through hardship. I think all of us who love reading have a tendency to adopt characters as part of themselves to some degree or another.
What this brings me to wonder is, how many of us have felt like an author was treating one of their characters unfairly? Did the hero just miss out on his chance to be with the woman he loves? Did a side character get blamed for something that wasn't their fault? Did you ever feel that a particular villain should have been defeated by a different character than the hero?
And how easy is it for us to accept that bad things happen to good characters when we've invested so much emotional energy into their journey?