Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St. Mary's #1)
by Jodi Taylor
Review by Gayle Surrette
Night Shade Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781597808682
Date: 07 June 2016 List Price $12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Madeleine (Max) Maxwell had two pivotal events in her life. The first was, as a rebellious youngster, acting out in school. At this point she was offered a choice -- take the help that was being offered or be expelled. The second was when she'd gotten her history doctoral degree and she was offered a chance at an opening at St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research. She took this second chance and found a home, a family, and exciting work.
That doesn't mean that her life was now all chocolate and roses. It was the kind of work where you'd always be in danger. In fact there should be 12 historians, and they seldom managed to keep the full complement alive. St. Mary's didn't do time travel, instead they "investigate major historical events in contemporary time". The work required intensive preparation because if you interfered with the natural progress of the time stream, time itself would make sure that the interfering element (usually the historian) was eliminated.
As the title implies, time is Just One Damned Thing After Another. Taylor manages to pull the reader in and to accept the basic premise, and then enjoy the chaos that ensues. History doesn't always match with the actuality, which is rather difficult to deal with when you have to change your plans on the fly based on what's happening around you, while trying not to actually get involved. Then there's the possibility that there's another group out there piggybacking on their runs, and not in a nice way. Of course trying to get funding for such a project means that budgets are tight and the people with the money don't like paying for unsuccessful projects -- thus lots of stress.
Put it all together and you have danger, romance, history, financial and academic politics, hidden agendas, dangerous assignments, characters you care about, and the feeling that more is going on than you're actually reading about. I can hardly wait for book two. Take a chance and be prepared to laugh out loud, cry, yell at the pages when things don't go the way you think they should, and sign with relief when the tension eases for a few pages. Just One Damned Thing After Another is a true page-turner.