Cossacks in Paris
by Jeffrey Perren
Cossacks in Paris is an historical fiction and romantic adventure set in the Napoleonic era. The hero in this novel, Breutier, was inspired by a real solider who participated in the Battle of Paris in 1814 and ended up chased by Cossacks during the conflict.
Cossacks in Paris is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Paris, fought March 30-31, 1814. US readers can also enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win an autographed paperback copy (closes 20 April).
How far will one man go for love and freedom?
Rebellious Breutier Armande, a rising young civil engineer in Paris, is drafted into the Grande Armeé on the eve of Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign. His must carry out espionage mission in St. Petersburg, where he meets Kaarina, a Finnish mathematician and daughter of the counselor to Tsar Alexander I.
The pair soon fall in love - but Kaarina is betrothed to Agripin, a vicious Cossack and a favorite of the Tsar. When she refuses him, Agripin kidnaps her, aided by Kaarina's envious twin sister, Kaisa, and a battle is set between the two men. Breutier deserts Napoleon's army and faces prosecution for treason. Dodging the vengeance of the world's most powerful rulers sends him on a perilous quest to hunt down the era's most ruthless Cossack.
Interweaving the characters' personal dramas with the historical wars in Europe of the following two years forms the core of the story. The novel climaxes at the moment when, for the first time in 400 years, foreign armies invaded France, leaving behind Cossacks in Paris.
Breutier stood panting in a corner outside the palace, nestled between some holly bushes and a wall just higher than his head. It was not a safe place to hide for very long, he knew. It would take only a single guard to glance down the length of the wall and he would unquestionably be spotted. There were many possible hiding spots around the grounds, but between the nighttime weather and lack of water he wouldn't last long. He had to assume orders had been given not to let him pass any gate, and he couldn't possibly scale the surrounding wall.
He looked around, hot for an escape route.
Then his view landed on a pipe running up a wall to the third floor. He estimated it to be about twenty meters further from where he thought the library was. From the design, he guessed it was of French design. Engineers from Europe had been working in Russia for over a hundred years, but this pipe was new. Obviously, someone had installed indoor plumbing recently in at least one part of the palace. And he had a hunch who had suggested it. He used the pipe to climb the wall.
The moisture on the pipe made the climb difficult, but he had good toe holds from the wall brick. Now all he had to do was make it all the way up without being spotted from below. He had reached the second floor when on his periphery he noticed a guard rounding the corner. Fortunately, the man hadn't thought to look up to find him. Yet.
Breutier's muscles strained to hold his position while the guard sauntered away. When he rounded the other corner, Breutier scrambled the rest of the way up like a panther after a doe.
At the third floor he raised a leg sideways and just managed to get his boot's toe onto the parapet of the balcony. He wouldn't be able to hold on to the pipe and slide the other foot onto the base. All he could do was push off and hope to generate enough lateral momentum to reach.
He had to avoid going too far, since jumping off the low wall onto the balcony floor would alert anyone on the other side of the French windows. But if he didn't push hard enough, he'd tumble down the three stories to the stone below.
He took a deep breath and shoved as hard as he dared. It proved more than enough to get him onto the parapet, but too hard to prevent him falling onto the balcony floor. To soften the noise he tucked his head and rolled over onto his back.
It hadn't been soft enough. He could see a figure behind the thin curtains move toward him. He had nowhere to hide. The tall glass doors covered the entire width of the balcony.
Kaarina opened the doors as Breutier backed against the balcony rails, whipping his head left and right to seek an escape. He had no way of knowing of her attempt to block Agripin. She was Finnish and, so far as he knew, loyal to its ruling Russian regime. He spun around and looked over at the pipe, debating whether to jump for it.
"Desya, come inside, quick!" she whispered harshly.
He spun back and looked at her eyes, gray now in the fading evening light. Only the candlelight from inside illuminated the gold streaks. But he could see well enough to make out the smile beneath the concerned expression in her eyes. He moved away from the balcony's edge and into the room as she backed away from the door frame.
"My name is not Desya," he said in a normal tone of voice in French. "It's Breutier. I'm an engineer in Napoleon's army."
"If you read in bed, you might be up all night." ~ Frank Schulwolf, Amazon
"Sit back and strap yourself in for a riotous, rollicking ride following appealing heroes, heroines and villains across war-torn Napoleonic Europe." ~ Peter Cresswell, Not PC
“History buffs will enjoy the setting in Napoleonic Europe. The scenes from Russia to France were well-selected and well-written thus giving a realistic picture of the times. Romanticists will enjoy the plot. Two men are chasing after one woman. Emotions and rivalry are tense. The plot is masterfully constructed.” ~ John Christmas, author of Democracy Society
"Perren's economical style moves one quickly from page-to-page while leaving little for interpretation, and everything to purposeful conquest. The reader is driven by one overriding question: will a man's passionate pursuit of a woman prove more powerful than a ruler's quest for an empire?" ~ Michael Moeller, The Atlasphere
About the Author
Jeffrey Perren wrote his first short story at age 12 and went on to win the Bank of America Fine Arts award at 17. Since then he has published at award-winning sites and magazines from the US to New Zealand. He is the author of Cossacks In Paris, an historical war novel set in the Napoleonic era, the romantic travel mystery Death Is Overrated, and his latest release Clonmac's Bridge.
Jeffrey states: "My writing 'motto' is the same as that of my publisher, ClioStory Publishing: 'Stories the way they used to be.' I strive to write straightforward prose that offers the reader an engrossing story that will hold them every page to the end. I offer characters that reflect values from times past - or perhaps the future: integrity, heroic achievements, and an unflagging sense of right and wrong."
Educated in philosophy and physics at UCLA and UC Irvine, Jeffrey lives in Sandpoint, Idaho.