One Virtue And A Thousand Crimes: The Adventuress

The Adventuress

He's a pirate. She's an escaped slave. Passion is their undoing.

Jean Laffite evades authorities in this first installment in a historical fiction pirate series. If you enjoy noir romance, punchy action, and witty exchanges, then you'll love this novelette series starter. Will the adventuress be the downfall of Jean Laffite's smuggling empire?

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"The pirogue Jean sat in was so close to the water he could hear it splash against the sides as it glided through the night. He reached out and let the cool and soft liquid brush along his hand, then let the drops that trembled at his fingertips drip into the Mississippi. He enjoyed this intimacy with the river, and it reminded him on his childhood where he and his brother Pierre spent days building boats and racing on the Garonne river near Bordeaux, sometimes even on the Bay of Biscay."


"A shout from far up the river sent a chill across his body and he un-hung the musket from his shoulder. It wasn’t a light firearm, weighing twelve pounds, but with the recently developed percussion lock, it was reliable—which is why it was indispensable for Jean’s expeditions both on the Mississippi and Barataria. It was—like Jean—tall and slender, elegant and yet simple, far-reaching and precise, and requiring particular attention to cleanliness."


Mirà Kanehl in The Adventuress

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The Adventuress

What others are saying about this novelette

"What an engaging author! Her depictions of the characters are spot on. At times, writers can only sympathetically portray characters of their own sex. Not so with Mira Kanehl, she is gifted in the art of exposing her characters personalities so well, that I feel as if I have personally become acquainted with them. These characters were real, and she did her research to portray them as to who they were in real life. To me, the story line was incidental to my enjoyment of the skillful writing. I felt like I was watching a good old B&W 1940s movie. I think she had fun writing it; I know I enjoyed reading it."

PAR on Goodreads


"Well written and well paced. Provided an excellent introduction to to the author’s storytelling skill."

Teresa on Goodreads


"DEFINITELY left me wanting more (as did the prequel)."

TaniaRina on Goodreads


"Definitely a quick read, but not in a bad way. It pulls the reader in within the first chapter and you feel like you have to finish it. I wish there was more with this particular series as I would love to further explore the characters and their stories."

PunkAmori on Goodreads

The Laffite Pirates of 1813: A Tale of Smuggling, Betrayal, and Intrigue

In the annals of pirate lore, the name Jean Laffite stands out as a legendary figure whose exploits have captured the imaginations of many. The year 1813 witnessed the unfolding of a captivating chapter in the history of the Laffite Pirates, a tale filled with adventure, smuggling, and in The Adventuress, also with the enigmatic Cosma Wolfe. Join us as we delve into the riveting narrative of Jean Laffite, his brother Pierre, and the captivating Cosma, against the backdrop of the marshy rivers and clandestine operations at Barataria.


The infamous Jean Laffite roams New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico, Barataria, the Mississipi and the Lafourche rivers. His business? Smuggling and general piracy. Expert of the many rivers and streams between Donaldsonville and the coast, the authorities don't stand a chance. When Inspector Gilbert decides to tackle the increasing problem of smuggling—causing the economy of New Orleans to stagnate as the pirates only accept cash and no bank notes—he is faced with a humorous and clever opponent. Who will have the last laugh?

Meeting Cosma Wolfe at a masquerade ball of New Orleans

In The Adventuress, Jean Laffite's path intersects with the intriguing and fictional Cosma Wolfe at a masquerade ball in the vibrant city of New Orleans.


Masquerade balls provided an environment where attendees concealed their identities behind masks and costumes. For someone involved in illicit activities such as smuggling and privateering, attending a masquerade ball offered an opportunity to move through society without attracting undue attention. The anonymity provided by the masks could be useful for someone like Jean Laffite, who might have wished to keep a low profile while interacting with people from various social strata.


Pirates and privateers often relied on information about shipping, trade, and potential targets. Masquerade balls were social events where individuals from different backgrounds converged, providing an opportunity for Laffite to gather intelligence, make connections, and potentially identify lucrative targets for smuggling or privateering activities.


Establishing social connections was crucial in the world of piracy and smuggling. Attending masquerade balls allowed Jean Laffite to network with influential individuals, including those involved in local trade, politics, or other spheres. Building relationships with key figures could provide advantages in terms of protection, information, or collaboration.


Like many individuals, even those engaged in illicit activities, Jean Laffite might have attended masquerade balls simply for enjoyment and entertainment. Such events were known for their festive atmosphere, music, and dancing, offering a respite from the challenges of a pirate's life. Also, attending social events, including masquerade balls, allowed individuals like Jean Laffite to integrate into the cultural fabric of the regions they frequented. This could help in maintaining a semblance of normalcy and reducing suspicion from local authorities.


Cosma, whom Jean meets at one of these balls, is a woman of Scottish and African descent, harbors aspirations of becoming a pirate, a pursuit not typical of women in that era. Jean and Pierre Laffite, seasoned smugglers, are hesitant to trust her. But she discloses connections to the highest ranking politicians of New Orleans and offers them an irresistible deal. So they give her what she wants: to teach her how to become a pirate, even though they think her goal ridiculous.

The Smuggling expedition

The trio embark on a smuggling expedition towards Donaldsonville, navigating the treacherous marshy rivers of the region using pirogues. These flat-bottomed boats were crucial in traversing the intricate waterways, but they also presented challenges. Plus, they had to use the less traveled ways, where shallow waters, hidden obstacles, and unpredictable currents made every journey a perilous adventure. 

Encounter with temporary customs agent Walker Gilbert

Trouble brewed when customs agent Gilbert, hailing from Donaldsonville, attempts to catch the Laffite Pirates red-handed with their contraband. The stakes are high as the agent aims to foil their illicit operations. The marshes, with their intricate network of water channels, provide the perfect setting for high-stakes chases and narrow escapes.


There is not much information readily available about Walker Gilbert, most I found in William C. Davis’ notorious book about the Laffite pirates. While I cannot be certain that the following outlined Gilbert’s actual activity, in 1813, a temporary customs agent in Donaldsonville would have been tasked with enforcing customs regulations and preventing smuggling activities in the region.


The customs agent would likely conduct surveillance to gather intelligence on suspected smuggling activities. This could involve monitoring ports, waterways, and other locations where smuggling operations were known to occur.


Regular patrols and inspections of vessels, warehouses, and other relevant areas would be conducted to check for contraband goods. Customs agents might board ships, examine cargo, and investigate any discrepancies in documentation.


The customs agent would collaborate with other law enforcement agencies, such as local sheriffs, federal marshals, and naval authorities, to coordinate efforts in combating smuggling. This could include sharing information, conducting joint operations, and seeking assistance in apprehending known smugglers. Sadly for Gilbert, the practical aspect of this was rather lacking at the time due to the limited possibilities.

If evidence of smuggling was discovered, the customs agent would work with legal authorities to initiate legal proceedings against the individuals involved. This could lead to arrests, trials, and the imposition of fines or other penalties.


Given the political and economic context of the time, there might have been trade embargoes or restrictions in place. The customs agent would be responsible for enforcing these restrictions and ensuring that prohibited goods were not being imported or exported.


Customs agents often relied on informants within the community or among smugglers themselves. Building relationships with individuals who had knowledge of illegal activities could provide valuable tips and assistance in apprehending smugglers.


Customs agents might coordinate with the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, which operated customs cutters to patrol coastal areas. These cutters were responsible for intercepting vessels engaged in smuggling and enforcing customs laws.


It's important to note that the effectiveness of these measures could vary, and the challenges faced by customs agents included the vast and often difficult-to-navigate waterways of the Gulf Coast, where pirates and smugglers, including the Laffite brothers, operated. The cat-and-mouse game between customs agents and pirates was complex, with both sides employing strategies to outwit the other.

Selling contraband

Selling contraband in 1813 was no easy feat. The Laffite brothers faced the challenge of finding buyers discreetly while evading the watchful eyes of law enforcement. The contraband trade was lucrative, but perilous, requiring a delicate balance of secrecy and strategic partnerships.


The French population of New Orleans saw Jean Laffite as an anti-hero, a kind of Robin Hood, because they were tired of the American Government and the fact that New Orleans changed hands so many times during this time period. The Laffite pirates therefore had much support from the population during their smuggling era.


Jean Laffite understood the importance of discretion in selling contraband. To avoid attracting attention from authorities, transactions would likely have been conducted in a clandestine manner, often in secluded areas or through intermediaries.


Smugglers often operated front businesses or used existing legitimate businesses as a cover for their illegal activities. This could include establishing trading posts, warehouses, or other businesses that provided a legitimate facade while serving as a hub for the distribution of contraband.


Corruption was not uncommon during this period, and smugglers like Jean Laffite might have engaged in bribery to ensure that local officials turned a blind eye to their activities. This could involve paying off customs officials or other law enforcement agents.


Establishing connections with local merchants who were sympathetic or willing to engage in illicit trade could have facilitated the sale of contraband. These merchants might act as middlemen or provide cover for the resale of smuggled goods.


Given the strategic location of Barataria in the marshy bayous of Louisiana, waterways were crucial for transporting contraband. Jean Laffite likely used pirogues and other watercraft to move goods discreetly along the rivers, avoiding established checkpoints.


Jean Laffite would have been familiar with the black market and the individuals involved. Operating within these networks allowed for the exchange of contraband goods without attracting the attention of legitimate authorities.


Smugglers often exploited legal loopholes or gaps in enforcement to conduct their operations. Jean Laffite might have taken advantage of lax enforcement in certain areas or used legal ambiguities to justify his actions.


Contraband could be subtly introduced into the market to avoid suspicion. Jean Laffite may have infiltrated existing supply chains or markets, making it difficult for authorities to distinguish between legal and smuggled goods.


It's important to note that the methods employed by Jean Laffite would have been dynamic and adapted to the changing circumstances and enforcement measures of the time. The historical records of pirate activities are often shrouded in mystery and legend, adding to the allure of figures like Jean Laffite in the annals of maritime history.

Privateers of Barataria

The contraband for their operations came from privateers stationed at Barataria, employed by the Laffite Pirates, which was a notorious pirate haven. These skilled sailors and fighters bolstered the Laffite brothers' stores, ensuring enough contraband for many months ahead. The collaboration with privateers added an element of unpredictability to their already daring exploits.


The privateers of Barataria played a significant role in the early 19th-century Gulf of Mexico region, particularly during the era of Jean Laffite and his associates. Barataria was a notorious haven for pirates and privateers, located in the marshy bayous of Louisiana.


Barataria served as a base of operations for privateers and pirates, including the Laffite brothers, Jean and Pierre. The location's intricate waterways provided an ideal environment for evading law enforcement and conducting illicit activities.


Privateers often collaborated with the Laffite Pirates in various smuggling and privateering ventures. The partnership allowed for a more extensive network, increased resources, and enhanced capabilities during raids and expeditions.


Privateers were heavily involved in smuggling and the contraband trade. Barataria's strategic location made it an ideal hub for transporting and distributing goods, often acquired through less-than-legal means, to buyers along the Gulf Coast.

Weapons and protection

In a world fraught with danger, the Laffite Pirates employed a variety of weapons to protect themselves. Flintlock pistols, cutlasses, and muskets were the tools of their trade, essential for defending against both military attacks and the formidable wildlife of the marshy region. Each encounter, whether with law enforcement or the untamed environment, demanded quick thinking and skilled marksmanship.


Flintlock pistols were commonly used by pirates, including the Laffite brothers. These muzzle-loaded firearms had a distinctive mechanism that used a piece of flint to strike a spark, igniting gunpowder and firing a lead ball.


Cutlasses were a preferred melee weapon among pirates. With a short, slightly curved blade, cutlasses were effective for close-quarters combat on the deck of a ship. Pirates often used them during boarding actions and in hand-to-hand combat.


Muskets, smoothbore long guns, were utilized by the Laffite Pirates for ranged combat. These firearms were effective in ship-to-ship engagements and during raids. Muskets were loaded with musket balls and were known for their firepower.


The Laffite Pirates, especially Jean Laffite, were involved in privateering against Spanish forces in the Gulf of Mexico. Privateering involved legal authorization from a government to attack and capture enemy vessels during times of war. The Laffite Pirates often targeted Spanish ships, taking advantage of the ongoing conflicts in the region.


The Laffite Pirates faced opposition from various military authorities, including the United States. In 1814, during the Battle of New Orleans, Jean Laffite and his men fought alongside General Andrew Jackson and the U.S. forces against the British. This collaboration was a strategic move to secure a pardon for their past smuggling and privateering activities.


In the marshy regions and waterways where the Laffite Pirates operated, they encountered not only military threats but also the dangers of the untamed environment. Weapons were essential for protection against wildlife, such as alligators and other potential hazards lurking in the swamps and rivers.

The year 1813 unfolded as a chapter of high-stakes adventure for the Laffite Pirates, a tale blending historical fact with the allure of fiction. Jean Laffite, his brother Pierre, and the enigmatic Cosma Wolfe navigate the perilous waters of smuggling, facing challenges that test their mettle at every turn. The Laffite Pirates' legacy endures as a testament to the audacious spirit of those who sought fortune and freedom on the high seas.


Explore this riveting historical fiction series about the Laffite Pirates, where smuggling, betrayal, and adventure converge in a world filled with intrigue and danger. Whether you're a fan of novella books, historical fiction about pirates, or short pirate stories, the Laffite Pirates' saga One Virtue And A Thousand Crimes promises an immersive journey into the thrilling world of piracy on the high seas.

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Comments: 2
  • #2

    Flo (Tuesday, 28 November 2023 12:36)

    Good story, when comes the book?

  • #1

    Christine (Wednesday, 20 January 2021 06:50)