Veronika Pelka

Undone by Fate's Hand: A Novel
By Veronika Pelka

Undone by Fate's Hand:  A Novel - by Veronika Pelka


After Napoleon Bonaparte is exiled to the island of Elba and a new Bourbon King returns to the French throne, the country becomes a dangerous place for the supporters of the former ruler.

When Captain Alexander Dariusz Mazowski returns to Paris to find his brother’s murderer, he is recruited by an agent of the ousted French Emperor to find a shipment of gold lost during the final weeks of the invasion of Russia.  Napoleon Bonaparte is planning to return from exile and desperately needs the gold to fund a new army. Mazowski was once a member of his Imperial Guard and is one of the few men left in France whom he trusts.

Mazowski accepts the secret mission reluctantly and finds himself involved with an English woman. But Johanna Bredonne is no ordinary English woman; she is the widow of the French War Minister responsible for bringing the gold shipment to Moscow.

Though warned of her own imminent arrest, Johanna Bredonne refuses to leave France until she secures the freedom of her imprisoned best friend.  Then fate offers her a hand as she encounters a childhood friend.

Jeremy Penfield is a British spy living in Paris under an assumed identity and knows well, the power of the man who wants Johanna and her friend imprisoned. While deeply concerned for the women’s welfare, his orders from the Admiralty limit his actions. Unable to assist the women openly, he secures Captain Mazowski’s assistance. But reveling his true identity to the Pole has its own set of risks, since the English and French were at war for most of the previous decade.

As Johanna Bredonne persists in finding her friend and Captain Mazowski pursues a murderer and a traitor, their paths cross. Inevitably, they are drawn to one another but their chance for happiness is thwarted by a series of unforeseen events.

With the Congress of Vienna as a backdrop, Undone by Fate’s Hand is a novel of intrigue, spies and hidden identities. It is also a story of love and loyalty, of friendship and patriotism and in the end, of triumphing over evil. Some of its characters willingly accept their fate, seeing it as nothing more than duty. Others refuse to submit to it and likely never will.

Although Napoleon Bonaparte was once again defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, his arrogance remained intact. Unlike the people of France, perhaps he never understood how the hand of fate so powerfully ruled his reign.


  • The Author
  • Recommended Reading
  • Reader's Comments

The Author

The author was born in Europe and was educated in the U.S. She holds history degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of California. As a member of the Historical Novel Society, she has contributed numerous book reviews to its magazine. (

Veronika Pelka is a pseudonym.

Contact the author:



Recommended Reading List

Napoleon Bonaparte’s role in French history has been the subject of thousands of books, but the early 19th century can also be understood through other points of view.

The selective list below is offered as an aid for anyone wanting a more intimate understanding of 19th century European society. Most of these titles are in print and available at your public library.

If your library does not own a particular title, ask for it via interlibrary loan. This service is normally free of charge.

Alsop, Susan Mary.  The Congress Dances Vienna 1814-1815
Buckley, Veronica.  Christina, Queen of Sweden
Chlapowski, Dezydery.  Memoirs of a Polish Lancer
Di Robilant, Andrea.  Lucia A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon
Durant, Will & Ariel. The Age of Napoleon The Story of Civilization
Eisler, Benita.  Byron Child of Passion, Fool of Fame
Erickson, Carolly.  Josephine A Life of the Empress
Fairweather, Maria.  Madame de Stael
Foreman Amanda. Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire
Fraser, Flora.  Beloved Emma The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton
Fraser, Flora.  Pauline Bonaparte Venus of Empire
Fraser, Flora.  Princesses The Six Daughters of George III
Fraser, Flora.  The Unruly Queen The Life of Queen Caroline
Herold, J. Christopher.  Mistress to An Age A Life of Madame de Stael
Hibbert, Christopher. Napoleon’s Women
Nagel, Susan.  Mistress of the Elgin Marbles-A Biography of Mary Nisbet
Hickman, Katie.  Courtesans Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century
Moorehead, Caroline.  Dancing to the Precipice
Murray, Venetia.  An Elegant Madness High Society in Regency England
Robb, Graham. Parisians An Adventure History of Paris
Scott, Susan Holloway.  Duchess A Novel of Sarah Churchill
Stuart, Andrea.  The Rose of Martinique A Life of Napoleon’s Josephine
Sutherland, Christine.  Marie Walewska Napoleon’s Great Love
Zamoyski, Adam. The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna
Ziegler, Philip.  The Duchess of Dino Chatelaine of Europe

Reader's Comments

A complex mystery of who do you trust when your best friend has been kidnapped…I like the historical setting Bonaparte's France- the sense of being there, walking the streets of Paris… Of course a determined hero and an intrepid heroine.

Trish S.


Double agents, spies and counter spies as well as a romantic tale…couldn't put it down, the story was so compelling.

Char K.

Mrs. Pelka has integrated historical figures into a fascinating novel. Lots of interesting characters and great storytelling. Lots of historical "what if's".  Just when you think you know where the story is going, it takes a different turn.  But in the end everything comes together.


This is a good story with a romantic setting. The heroine Joanna Bredonne leads a conflicted life in Paris and Vienna during the time of Napoleon's 1814 return from exile. It is full of intrigues, and somewhat more loosely, espionage…It was nice to see that Mrs. Pelka was willing to offer readers something different from the daily routine of fiction.

Donald K.


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