Kristen Maroney lives the good life in the small Caribbean town of Placencia, on the coast of a tiny Central American country. She has her own beach wear boutique, she dates a hot casino manager, she lunches with friends, and she watches TV with her Labrador retriever, Buster. Comfortably divorced and childless, she lives for the status quo. But things threaten to change when her friend Amelia’s husband starts acting strange. Feeling for Amelia, and sensing that something’s fishy, Kristen starts asking questions over the objections of both her boyfriend Conrad and her neighbor Liz. She can’t seem to get clear answers, but bad people do come out of the woodwork, and soon her financial and emotional well-being are under siege. In this exciting tale of trouble in paradise, Kristen must use her wits and her guts if she is to keep herself and her friends out of harm’s way
THE FIRST IN THE KRISTEN MARONEY MYSTERY SERIES IS “TROPICAL TEMPTATION,” available on amazon.com in paperback or Kindle edition.
My name is Kristen Maroney, and I own a beach and resort wear boutique in Placencia, a Caribbean town in northern Costa del Oro. We use Caribbean dollars, which are worth about 40 cents US, and we speak English, although Spanish is the official language. I’m happily divorced and living alone in a rented house in the hills above town, except for Buster, my Labrador retriever. I’m friends with my neighbor Liz who sits on her veranda and writes all day long. When I’m not with my boyfriend Conrad, Buster and I eat dinner on my deck, which has a decent view of the ocean. Or we go see Liz for BYO dinners. For his part, Buster’s in it for the handouts, but I don’t mind. It’s his nature.
I don’t have children and don’t anticipate any, though I sometimes wonder if I’m missing something. I like being around my friend Amelia’s kids but I’m probably too old to do it full time. Conrad is divorced and saddled with hefty alimony and child support payments, so there’s no pressure from that direction. My parents live far away in Las Vegas, and besides they gave up on me doing normal things like having babies a long time ago. They look to my sister for that.
I’m overweight with shoulder length curly black hair and brown eyes. Conrad says I’m voluptuous, so I don’t worry about the weight, but I do color my hair every six weeks while I catch up on gossip at Nina’s Beauty Salon. What few clothes I need I order from designer overstock, a well-kept industry secret, and one of the few things I value from my fashion stylist days.
When I was married I lived in San Francisco and neither the city nor the marriage was much fun. I worked endless hours dressing women at Bacca da Silva and rarely got to enjoy the city. I dressed models for shows and customers for profit, and didn’t like any of them that I can remember. In the fashion industry, drugs and booze constitute the basic food groups, and a sizable chunk of my salary went in that direction. I had trouble tolerating my clients’ vanities and insecurities unless I was high.
My ex-husband Mark is a hottie, and he knows it. He sells real estate and models men’s clothing when he can get gigs. At first, he was attentive and romantic, but soon after we married, he began making excuses for evening absences, and it wasn’t long before I came home unexpectedly one afternoon and found him in the shower with another guy. I packed a suitcase and left.
A couple of months later I moved to Costa del Oro and opened my shop in Placencia. I don’t do drugs anymore and I rarely drink, apart from a glass of wine or a bottle of beer over dinner. I’m no health nut, but I don’t relish sabotaging my body on purpose either.
My shop is narcissistically named Kristen del Mar, and I carry the same resort wear you’ll find in Myrtle Beach or Miami. One day when I came back from lunch, I found Jordan, the dive shop owner, lounging in my chair, shooting the breeze with Belinda. He wore his usual Santa Margarita swim shorts with boat shoes, and a black t-shirt that was thin with use and faded from the sun. His eyes were hooded and bloodshot. Jordan and his wife Claire like to fire up blunts at night, and because he smokes so much, he looks stoned even when he’s not. Thankfully he doesn’t do weed when he’s diving.