Ethan Miller was a professional military hopeful, until an injury forced him to change his plans. His brother now lives Ethan's father's dream of a military hero for a son. Now the CFO of Snowflake Village in a small town in Vermont, as well as the creator of a very special place for children, Ethan can't imagine seeing Josie again. He is worried how Josie will react to all the changes since she left Echo Lake. Or how he'll react to seeing the girl who he was engaged to marry, now all grown up, the very same high school sweetheart who left him practically stranded at the altar.
Josie's homelife was more horrific than she thought anyone knew. It was especially bad during her high school years. The only bright spot was the love that she and Ethan shared. Several tragedies convinced Josie that she could never be happy in Echo Lake and Ethan could never be happy anywhere else. So Josie did what she thought was best for both of them. She left for Boston a month before their wedding and never looked back.
In the first few chapters, I really thought this book was going to be full of fluff and cutesy. I'm not a huge fan of cutesy. Some of the situations seemed contrived and a bit over-the-top, almost sickening sweet. But that's Josie. That's how she remembers the place she ran away from because it was such a farce in comparison to what was really happening in her world. That's actually the true beauty of this novel because amidst all that fluff and nicety-nice, you'll never expect the soul-sucking emotion that will grab you.
This book is a hidden gem within itself due to the way it steadily builds a relationship with the reader. The emotional baggage starts to stack up, the best friends' anger at Josie launches, and the real story of what happened ten years ago begins to unravel. It's good. It's emotional. It's completely unexpected.
Even though this novel seems all sweetness, happiness and light in the beginning, the powerful emotion FOREVER THIS TIME eventually radiates truly wallops in the end. Wow. Just wow. I cried me a river. Such a heartrending story of growing up, running away, then coming back to find where you left your heart. Excellent emotional journey toward a well-deserved happy-ever-after. I can't wait for Josh's story in HEART LIKE MINE, book 2 of the ECHO LAKE series releasing in April 2016!