Monday, March 2, 2015

Bringing in the Thieves by Lora Lee | Blog Tour with Excerpt, Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway

The Blurb

Frankie Lou’s back and Poppy’s madder than a wet hen.
Create a church choir filled with teenage misfits?
Over Poppy’s dead body.

Minister’s daughter Frankie Lou McMasters has come back to Ruby Springs, Texas with her daughter, Betsy, eleven years after running off to marry the town bad boy. Her mild notoriety as a bad girl is prime gossip for her childhood enemy, Poppy Fremont, now choir director of Faith Community Church — where Frankie Lou’s daddy, now retired to Florida, was the preacher.

When Frankie Lou comes to the deacons with a request to add a youth choir of at-risk teens she’s been coaching, Poppy throws a fit. A few hours later, Frankie Lou finds her dead in the baptistery pool. And Poppy’s not playing possum.

Frankie Lou sets out to clear her name as the main suspect, and tries to locate the real killer. Could he be sexy Joe Camps, the father of one of her teen singers? In the meantime, her momma shows up from Florida to take charge of Frankie Lou’s life. Bless her heart.

Bringing in the Thieves by Lora Lee
Series: A Joyful Noise Mystery, #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery  
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Published by: Bell Bridge Books
Paperback: 168 Pages
ISBN-10: 1611944651
ISBN-13: 978-1611944655
eBook File Size: 424 KB

Amazon Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Bell Bridge Books Goodreads

The Excerpt

I knew the minute I read the church bulletin that I was fixin’ to be Southern-fried and plated-up in front of God, the Faith Community Church deacons, and eventually the entire community of Ruby Springs, Texas, sure as my name’s Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters.

My well-meaning landlady, Nettie Bloom, had decided to announce my proposed church project without asking me if I wanted her to. I had just scheduled a meeting with the deacons about it, not given them any details about the idea. I hadn’t spoken it aloud to anyone but Miss Nettie. But now there it was in print, along with Miss Nettie’s usual assortment of misplaced phrases and Mrs. Malaprop word choices. Miss Nettie had been editing the church’s newsletter, News From The Pews, for a good many years, but I’d noticed her memory getting a little tangled lately.


100 Blessings St.
Ruby Springs, Texas

As we wait for the selection of a full-time pastor, we welcome back interim minister, Reverend Matthew Whitlaw to the pulpit next Sunday at Faith Community. His morning sermon will be Jesus Walks on Water followed by Searching for Jesus in the evening. 

For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs. 

Members of the Weight Watchers group will meet Monday at 5:30 P.M. for weekly weigh-in. Please use large double door at the side entrance to the annex. The Low Self-Esteem Support Group will be using the back door. 

Prior to prayer meeting Wednesday evening a bean supper will be held in the church hall. Special music will follow. 

Until further notice, please give massages to the church secretary, Lovey Muchmore. She will then give massages to the newsletter editor who will share the details in our newsletter.  

Prayerfully submitted,
N. Bloom, Newsletter Editor

Truth be known, there were certain people who weren’t exactly thrilled by my return to the town where my daddy, Reverend Frank Birmingham, occupied the pulpit at Faith Community before his recent retirement to Florida. I’d been gone from Ruby Springs eleven years, but it seems those certain people have the combined memory of a herd of elephants. One in particular: Poppy Rose deHaven Fremont, Faith Community’s choir director.

I grabbed my tote, made a quick call next door to Miss Nettie’s house, where my eleven-year-old, Betsy, was staying for dinner, then headed for the church. It was a hot spring night and bound to get hotter.

Help me, Lord, Miss Nettie and that newsletter are gonna get me killed one way or another.

The unexpected appearance of Poppy Rose deHaven Fremont in the church’s conference room confirmed what I’d feared all along. My notoriety as the shamefully irreverent preacher’s daughter hadn’t been forgotten, even after an absence of more than a decade. Any hope of getting the deacons to approve my request had just been deep-sixed. Well, horse pucky!

There she was, the Queen of Mean, flapping her collagen-plumped lips faster than a whipporwill’s tail in a windstorm while seven deacons stared in wide-eyed amazement.

I shook my head in disbelief. What in the heck had she done to herself? Those puffy lips weren’t the only recently enhanced body parts, either. Poppy Rose was a walking, talking endorsement for the modern wonders of plastic surgery and extreme weight loss. My monthly house rent couldn’t begin to touch the high-dollar cost of that hot pink linen skirt and knit top clinging to her curves closer than a coat of paint from Howard’s Hardware. Talk about extreme makeover, her body had been nipped and tucked in places I didn’t even want to think about. Yikes!

A brief, but uncomfortable, sting of envy zapped me so hard I could almost hear momma saying, “Pretty is as pretty does, Frances Louise.” A die-hard fan of Downton Abbey, she never called me Frankie Lou when she was in her Lady Louisa mood.

Poppy Rose teetered toward me on nose-bleed high stilettos, her over-enhanced boobs leading the way. Oh boy, here it comes, I thought, wondering if escape was possible. Had she seen the bulletin?

“Well, Ah declare, Frankie Lou.” Her words dripped so much toxic sweetness it made my teeth ache. “Here y’all are, stirring up trouble just like old times. You haven’t changed a bit, bless your heart.” She smiled, the bright flash of Hollywood-white teeth threatening to blind me on the spot.

I flicked a wayward strand of my straight black hair behind one ear. Now, truth is, I don’t give a horse’s patoot about fashion, but does Starbucks know she’s got her Texas-big hair whipped up like a mocha latte with caramel swirls?

“Why, hello, Poppy Rose,” I said, sucking in my tummy and sticking out my 34B girls like they were Double Ds. Hey, I have my pride, but there’s no way I would ever let anyone slice and dice my body for the sake of  “perfect.”

According to Miss Nettie, Poppy Rose married into big money three years ago after meeting her future husband on a singles cruise. Miz Parvis Fremont turned her brand-new wealth into a mighty fine shopping career.

The impressive Fremont mansion and its extravagant interior adornments is the town’s only claim to fame. Miss Nettie said Poppy Rose consulted a designer from Italy for the elaborate decorating, and the place got written up in some big architectural magazine. That bit of information teased my curiosity, but I’m not likely to ever be invited to the Ruby Springs’ wonder home. In the first place, I wasn’t even invited to the nuptials. Wouldn’t have gone anyway, since the ceremony took place during my prolonged self-exile in Austin. I understand that show-of-the-century shindig cost a cool half-million dollars, all paid for by the groom, of course. There was even actual dancing at the reception over at the town community center, something never done before in Ruby Springs. Yes indeedy, Poppy Rose finally snagged herself a wealthy spouse. Kind of sad he died so soon. Or was it? Looking at her now, I’d say she wears her hot pink widow’s weeds just a little too perky.

[NOTE: You can read the rest of Chapter One, plus Chapter Two, here at Bell Bridge Books.]


The Review

I read an amazing book recently, y'all! Let me tell you a little about it. 

Bringing in the Thieves, a cozy mystery by Lora Lee, is the first book in the Joyful Noise Mystery series. With its church setting, Bringing in the Thieves is a clean read — one you can share with your teen, your grandma, or any mystery lover in between. 

The events take place in Ruby Springs, a realistic small town in Texas. The characters are realistic also, and likable for the most part (except for Poppy Rose, and she is fun to dislike). I found it very hard to put the book down, because I just had to know what these likable, fun characters were going to do next.

My favorite character is Frankie Lou, the narrator of the book, because of her sense of humor and general attitude toward life, and her determination to help the choir kids. I also like the six members of Frankie Lou's youth choir — Bruno and Granville Brown, J'Nell and Joy Franklin, Rosella Bird, and Wes Camps — and how much they enjoy singing in their choir.

My second favorite character is Miss Nettie, for such things as her church newsletter typing (see the excerpt), her opinions, her favorite kinds of novels,
However, Miss Nettie had her own opinion about the coroner's findings. In fact, she had opinions about a lot of happenings in Ruby Springs. She reads a lot of mystery and suspense novels.
 her opinion about gossip,
"...Lucky I phoned your momma. There's a news flash on Good Morning, America this morning, too, so sooner or later those gossipy biddies would've called her. They keep her informed of every little thing that happens in town."
My neighbor had done exactly what she accused the 'biddies' of doing.   
and how she is eager to help Frankie Lou do some sleuthing.
"Humph! All I can say is, you're certainly no fun," she muttered under her breath and finally sat down next to me. "I'll bet Lulu wouldn't say that to Stephanie Plum."
 ... Miss Nettie was itching to run right out and play detective. Her sleuthing suggestions were straight out of TV's old Magnum, P.I. shows.
Never mind that Frankie Lou is not quite 30, and Miss Nettie is elderly — Miss Nettie wants to help! 

The pacing of the book is just right,  and so is the amount of detail given. There were some interesting twists and turns in the plot. I was surprised to learn the identity of the perpetrator. I love the ending (Why? Read the book and find out for yourself!), and cannot wait to read the next book in the series! Maxie was very pleased that Miss Nettie's cat, Moses, is not only depicted on the cover, but helps Frankie Lou with her sleuthing.

Bringing in the Thieves by Lora Lee is an excellent read that's really fun! We highly recommend it to all Mystery fans, especially to Cozy fans. If you're new to Cozies, this would be a great introduction to the genre. We give Bringing in the Thieves our highest rating of Five Kitties!  


Note:  I  received a complimentary copy of Bringing in the Thieves from the author,
in exchange for an honest opinion of the book.

The Guest Post

 Confessions While Traveling the Cyber-Highway

The truth is I never intended to write a cozy mystery. Honest! I had three contemporary romances published and figured I would stick with that genre. I loved writing romances. Loved reading them, too. But one day in a flurry of free-writing, trying to fill my creativity well when I’d hit a brick wall with a current romance project, a character developed along with a story that wasn’t a romance. Where in the world did that come from? And what should I do with it? The story flowed easily from my imagination as I played with it. No pressure, no deadline — just writing for fun. I had no plans for the project because it didn’t fit the market I was targeting. But the characters stuck in my mind, so one day I showed it to my critique group. They agreed it wasn’t a romance but told me it sounded like a fit for the cozy mystery genre. That’s all it took to jump start the Joyful Noise Mysteries. 

Next thing I knew, Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters became a preacher’s daughter with a tarnished reputation. One mistake led her to the altar with Ruby Springs’ bad boy while her daddy kept one hand on the shotgun leaning against the pulpit and the other on his Bible as the bride and groom repeated their wedding vows. Protesting was never an option for the couple. Now, Ruby Springs, Texas, had a whole new topic of gossip. The story took off from there and well, it ended with a published cozy mystery, Bringing in the Thieves, and possible future books, thanks to Bell Bridge Books. 

Now, here I am traveling the cyber-highway on a month-long blog tour. If you’d like to learn more about the characters in the Joyful Noise Mysteries — and believe me, there are some quirky ones in Ruby Springs — come along and follow the blog tour. Oh, there’s a nifty giveaway you’ll have the opportunity to win — a $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of Bringing in the Thieves. Don’t miss out on the fun! A little joyful reading will get you through the long winter days.  

Lora Lee

The Author

About Lora Lee

You can’t be a preacher’s kid and raise a little hob without some serious repercussions. Yes, ma’am, that’s the gospel truth. Lora Lee’s JOYFUL NOISE mystery series for Bell Bridge Books, sheds a little light on just how serious those consequences can be when Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters returns to her hometown of Ruby Springs, Texas after ten years in hopes of putting some shine on her tarnished reputation, but finds herself in the middle of murder and mayhem instead.

Though author Lora Lee insists the series isn’t about her in any way, shape or form, she does admit to being a real-life P.K. (that’s preacher’s kid, in case you didn’t know.) She was born in Texas and her Southern blood runs deep. Her daddy told her any place below the Mason-Dixon line was part of the South, including the Lone Star State.

Since living in West Michigan most of her married life, she’s lost some of her Texas twang, but once in awhile, a might could and a y’all or two slips into her conversation with her critique partners. They love her, anyway. So does her husband of fifty-plus years and their children. With a current family count of twenty-three, get-togethers often resemble an old time revival when they all gather for fun and food.

Lora Lee is a member of Romance Writers of America, Mid-Michigan RWA, Sisters-in-Crime, RWA’s specialty chapter Kiss of Death and is currently published in contemporary romance. She is also a proud graduate of the Grand Rapids Citizens Police Academy.

When not writing or trying to keep up with her ever-growing family, she enjoys reading, music and travel.

Find her on the web at

The Giveaway

Lora Lee will award $25 Amazon Gift Card & eBook of Bringing in the Thieves
to TWO (2) randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.
Ends March 14, 2015 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buy the Book Tours

This event was organized by Buy the Book Tours.

Be sure to check out the schedule for the list of reviews, interviews and author guest posts! The tour started February 16th and runs through March 14th.

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