You were so sorry.
Of all the things you regret, this one is right at the top. The bad haircut, that horrible outfit you loved at the time, things lost or lent and never found -- those are all unimportant.
No, you're most remorseful for the thing you didn't do. You missed saying words that would have meant so much to someone.
Regrets? You've lived through them, but in the new novel "The Goat Woman of Largo Bay" by Gillian Royes, the sorrowful omission of one woman sets off a chain of events that changes an entire island.
Jamaica, says Miss Mac, is 150 miles long and 50 miles wide. Weather on the island is warm and there are two seasons: dry and wet.
It was the latter that nearly destroyed Eric Keller, an American who'd once owned a luxury hotel on a Largo peninsula. That was before the hurricane destroyed a bridge of land, leaving the hotel broken and inaccessible, a shabby island in its place.
And now there was something on that island.
Shadrack Myers, Keller's bartender and right-hand man, spotted the figure on the island and it was a woman, not the goat he thought he'd first seen. When he and Keller rowed out to make her leave, she informed them that she was staying, offering Keller money he couldn't refuse. She needed time, she said.
Shad could see that Keller was smitten with the woman, Simone, but it was obvious that she was harboring sorrowful secrets.
Secret-holding wasn't foreign to Shad.
When he was just a teenager, he was involved in petty crimes and was sent to prison. There, a giant of a man saved Shad from assaults and they became brothers. But now Dollar Bill was sniffing around, hinting that Shad owed him a favor, asking for some information that Shad wasn't willing to gather.
He had his hands full, anyway.
Eric Keller was worried about Simone, and he needed Shad's help. Simone's brother had come to town to fetch her, two thugs were suddenly stalking her, and curious Largoites were being kept away through the power of obeah medicine.
She had only asked for time to heal. But time appeared to be running out.
Like a sun-warmed afternoon on a white island beach, "The Goat Woman of Largo Bay" is an unhurried novel that's perfectly pina colada-sippable.
Or, you might get the urge to take big gulps of this book, too.
That's because author Gillian Royes keeps the action going with Island patois, an authentic location, and a cast of characters that you'll surely enjoy meeting. I can't wait, in fact, to read the next book about Shad Myers, a Jamaican man who isn't highly educated, can't read well, and doesn't understand fancy words but who possesses smarts and the kind of street cred you'd find in Jamaica, Queens.
I think if you're looking for an easy-going, well-paced, non-violent mystery, you're going to like "The Goat Woman of Largo Bay." Grab this book soon because if you miss it, you'll be sorry.
"The Goat Woman of Largo Bay," by Gillian Royes, copyright 2011 by Atria Books, is 306 pages and sells for $15.
Contact book reviewer Terri Schlichenmeyer at www.bookwormsez.com.