While working as a teacher in Iraq, the school Hope was teaching at was attacked by terrorists while she and a lone Marine patrolling the area were the only ones there. He pulled her through the halls and protected her while they were under attack and while waiting and praying to be rescued, he told her about Woodstock, Vermont, the picture perfect little town where he grew up and what a wonderful place it was. After falling unconscious and finally being pulled from the rubble, Hope awoke in a hospital in Germany, but no one knew anything about the young Marine who was with her in the school.
Hope decided to see Vermont for herself and ended up taking a teaching job in Woodstock after finding it as picturesque as she hoped, feeling a little more connected to the Marine who had saved her life. And when Ex-Marine Jack comes home for Christmas and eventually runs into Hope, they recognize each other almost immediately. Jack had always wondered what had happened to the beautiful teacher and is surprised and pleased that she ended up in his hometown. There’s a definite connection between the two, but then Hope finds out that Jack is engaged to someone else, a woman he met while in New York who wants him to move with her to Florida. Hope pretends she is fine just being friends and hanging out together, but soon Jack grows even more unhappy with his engagement and decides, if he can ever get decent cell reception, he’s going to call off his engagement and see where things lead with Hope.
Meanwhile, after a retirement party for Jack’s uncle who is leaving the Postal Service, a bag of mail that had been accidentally put aside and never delivered is located. With Hope’s help, Jack sets out to deliver the cards and mail to people in town and they begin to find that many of the pieces of late mail contained messages that have a huge impact on the recipients. There are also many references to the very real plight of returning veterans and the lack of jobs for these men and women who served their country.
I wanted to love this book, because the premise is really great, but it started out being a little confusing to me and felt like it took me awhile to catch up with some of the details. I was a little annoyed with Jack and how it seemed to take him forever to come to a decision about his engagement. But other than that and the somewhat slow start, I found this a heart-warming holiday read.