Cole grew up in a close-knit coastal island community. His parents ran an inn. He had some things happen (that he blamed on his mom/the Inn) and left the community. Having done very well for himself, he comes back with the goal of selling the inn and leaving for good.
Willow spend some summers on the island. She remembers being happy. There was one summer when she was 15 that she spent a night just talking (and got her first kiss) with one of the island boys (Cole). After she had a Bad Thing happen, she decides to escape her life for a week and spend Christmas on the island.
What started as an insta-lust/love moment, Willow and Cole happen to be on the same ferry, turned into a nice story I enjoyed. That night, as teenagers, left a mark on both and each (eventually) remembers the other person. I didn't care for Cole when the story first started, but he grew on me. Willow got more comfortable in her own skin and realized she is just fine as she is.