Thursday, December 19, 2019

Virtual Book Tour: Failure to Protect (Dre Thomas & Angela Evans #4) by Pamela Samuels Young

Title: Failure To Protect
Series: Dre Thomas & Angela Evans #4
Author: Pamela Samuels Young
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing
Publication Date: October 18th 2019
Print Length: 412 pages
Genres: Mystery, Legal Thriller, Contemporary
When the classroom is no longer a safe space for her child, the outraged mother of a bullied nine-year-old is determined to seek justice for her daughter. An ambitious school principal, however, is far more concerned about protecting her career than getting to the truth. She flat out denies any knowledge of the bullying and prefers to sweep everything under the rug. But just how low will she go?

When the mother’s two hard-charging female attorneys enter the picture, they face more than an uphill battle. As the case enters the courtroom, the women fight hard to expose the truth. But will a massive coverup hinder their quest for justice?
Chapter 1

"Please, Uncle Dre, let me stay home with you today. Can you homeschool me? Please!"

Dre stroked his goatee and laughed. "Unfortunately, I'm not smart enough to homeschool you or anybody else."

"I'm serious," Bailey pleaded, her face twisted in terror. "Please don't make me go!"

As his Jeep inched along behind the long line of cars dropping off kids in front of Parker Elementary School, Dre peered over his shoulder at the cute little girl sitting in his back seat. Bailey's stress level was way too high. She'd had a few run-ins with a bully at her old school, but he assumed the transfer to Parker had fixed everything.

"What's going on? Why don't you want to go to school?"

Bailey hugged her book bag to her chest as if it were a life raft. "I just don't."

"C'mon, talk to me. Is somebody bothering you here too?"

After a long beat, Bailey slowly bobbed her head.

Dre had purposely used the word bothering, not bullying. He was tired of hearing all the hoopla about bullies. Kids getting picked on was nothing new. It happened in his day and would keep happening until the end of time.

Truth be told, today's kids were too damn soft. People turned backflips to protect them from the realities of life. Like everybody getting a freakin' trophy just for participating. That was the stupidest crap he'd ever heard. Sometimes life is hard. Kids need to know that sooner rather than later.

"Please don't tell my mom," Bailey begged, her brown eyes glassy with tears. "She'll fuss at me for not standing up for myself."

Dre reached back and gave Bailey's foot a playful squeeze. "No, she won't. But you do have to start standing up for yourself. If somebody's being mean to you, you have my permission to be mean right back."

He wasn't condoning violence, but if another kid started some mess, the only way to show 'em you weren't no punk was to clap back twice as hard. Most bullies were wimps. Once you got in their face, they backed off. That's what he'd taught his son to do and, to his knowledge, Little Dre had never had a problem. He would teach Bailey to do the same.

"You don't get it," Bailey huffed, her shoulders drooping. "That won't help."

They were almost at the drop-off point, when Dre steered his Jeep out of the line of cars and made a hasty U-turn in the middle of the street.

Bailey's upper body sprang forward. "We're going home?"

"Nope." Dre pulled to a stop along the curb. "I'm walking you inside. I want you to show me who's messing with you."

Bailey slumped back against the seat, her lips protruding into a pout. "That'll just make it worse."

Turning off the engine, Dre hopped out and jogged around to open the back door. "Let's go."

He took Bailey's hand as they stepped into the crosswalk. The closer they got to the school doors, the slower Bailey walked. By the time they reached the entrance, Dre felt like he was tugging a sixty-pound bag of potatoes.

"Please, Uncle Dre," Bailey whispered, glancing all around. "Please don't make me go!" Her tiny hand clutched two of his fingers.

Dre led Bailey off to the side, squatted until they were at eye level, and caressed her shoulders.

"I don't know what's going on, but there's no reason for you to be this stressed out about going to school. If somebody's messing with you, I need to know about it. What's the kid's name?"

Bailey hung her head as a tear slid down her right cheek. For a second, Dre thought she was about to come clean.

"It doesn't matter," she mumbled, hoisting her book bag higher on her shoulder.

"Yes, it—"
Bailey jerked away from him and dashed inside the school.

He was about to go after her when a woman stepped in front of him, blocking his path.

"May I help you, sir?"

The woman's chin jutted forward like an accusing finger pointing him out in a lineup. "And you are?"

"I'm Bailey's"—he paused—"uh, I'm Bailey's godfather." He'd started to introduce himself as her uncle to make himself sound more legit but changed his mind.

"Your name?" Her tone conveyed all the warmth of an icicle.

"Andre Thomas."

Dre pegged the woman to be in her early forties. Her thick, black hair fell a couple of inches below her ears in a blunt cut that matched her funky disposition. Her sleeveless, form-fitting, red dress hugged every inch of her curvy frame. Actually, she was kinda hot. Kerry Washington’s classy style with Cookie Lyon's bad attitude.

"Bailey's mother didn't tell us someone else would be bringing her to school today."

She looked him up and down like he was some pedophile on the prowl for a new victim.

Dre couldn't seem to pull his eyes away. Despite an innate seductiveness, the woman still managed to carry herself with the spit-shine polish of a CEO. If professionalism had a smell, she would reek.

"Erika had an early meeting in Irvine and asked me to drop her off."

Dre ran a hand over his shaved head. Rarely did anybody—especially a female—make him feel this degree of uneasiness. "I'm sorry. I didn't get your name."

"I'm the principal. Darcella Freeman."

He should've guessed. A sister with a little power.

"I'll be dropping Bailey off and picking her up from time to time," Dre said, anxious for the chick to move out of his way so he could go after Bailey. "Erika got a big promotion. Her job's a lot more demanding now."

"Is that right?"

"Yep, that's right." What's up with this chick?

"Please ask Bailey’s mother to email the office authorizing you to pick her up from school."

Dre nodded. "Will do."

He still wanted to go inside, but the woman stayed put like a queen guarding the gates of her castle.

Without saying goodbye, Dre pivoted and headed back across the street. As he opened the door to his Jeep, he made a mental note to have a talk with Erika. She'd been thrilled about getting Bailey into Parker Elementary because of its stellar reputation. But the place might not be any better for Bailey than her old school.

Dre also couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right. And not just with Bailey.
I don't normally read legal thrillers, but there was something about Failure to Protect by Pamela Samuels Young that drew me in. I think it's because I was bullied as a child, but mostly because I'm a mom now. My oldest son has high functioning Autism and ADHD. He was bullied one year in school, and his school seemed to not do anything about it. Failure to Protect was a very emotional read, and I'm really glad I decided to give it a try. 

The plot for Failure to Protect was solid. Nine-year-old Bailey Lewis is constantly being bullied at her school. When something major happens, Bailey's mother, Erika, decides to sue the elementary school. However, the principal, Darcella, is more concerned with keeping the school's good record intact instead of worrying about bullied students. The principal will do whatever it takes to make sure her school's stellar reputation doesn't get soiled even if it means doing some bullying herself. 

Pamela Samuels Young did such a stellar job with the world building. Her knowledge of the court process and justice system is fantastic. Young is an attorney, and it's obvious she knows her stuff. Unfortunately, the subject of bullying in schools is all too real, and sadly, many schools are more worried about their reputation and all the paperwork and time a bullying case would take than actually caring about a bullied student. This fiction novel reads like a true story. There are a few plot twists which make this book even more interesting! Failure to Protect also answered every question I had. There's no speculation in Failure to Protect, and there's also no cliffhangers. This book is part of a series, but it's the first book I've read in the series, and I feel like it works as a standalone. 

The pacing in Failure to Protect is done perfectly. Every single paragraph, and every single chapter flowed smoothly into the next. Not once did I want to put this book down. It had my attention throughout! I was also a fan of the short chapters which I felt helped with the pacing.

The best thing about Failure to Protect, besides everything, were the characters. Each character had such a unique personality which really helped them to feel like a real person rather than just a character in a novel. I loved little Bailey, and I just wanted to hug her and let her know that I'd protect her against her bully. It was heartbreaking reading about all she went through in her young life from losing her father not too long ago to being relentlessly bullied in school and online. I also felt horrible for her mother Erika. She also went through two horrible tragedies including one a parent should never have to go through. I was constantly in her corner, and I kept rooting for her throughout the whole bullying ordeal with the school. Erika felt like what happened to Bailey was mostly her fault, and I wanted to tell Erika that sometimes it's not easy to know everything about our children. Dre was my favorite character. I enjoyed his thought process and how passionate he was about everything. It was obvious how much he loved his goddaughter Bailey. I loved how Angela grew as a character when it came to her relationship with Erika. At first, she wasn't big on Erika, but it was obvious how much she did end up caring for her. Angela and Jenny were both fantastic attorneys, and I loved how they were willing to dedicate all their time and knowledge for Bailey's case. Darcella, the principal, was such a horrible person. Young did a fantastic job at creating Darcella to be the antagonist. So many times I was so angry with Darcella. I wanted to just shake her and ask her why she didn't do anything for Bailey. Darcella does explain why she decided to overlook the bullying, but I just wanted to know why she bothered to work in a profession dealing with children if she didn't have any empathy. I was so annoyed with Darcella. I was also annoyed with Ethan Landers, Darcella's attorney. I know he was just doing his job at the end of the day, but it wasn't easy to read about how he could just side with the enemy. Zola, Bailey's teacher, was also an interesting character. She was so conflicted about doing the right thing, and I liked reading about why she chose to do what she did. Apache, Dre's best friend, was a minor character in Failure to Protect, but he gets a mention because I loved his scenes. He was such a character, and I loved how comical he was especially when it came to helping out Dre.

Trigger warnings in Failure to Protect include bullying, racism, sexual situations (although not too graphic), suicide, death, lying, alcohol, mentions of past drug use and selling, profanity, and mentions of violence.

All in all, Failure to Protect is an emotionally well written novel. It would make a fantastic Lifetime movie - at least that's what I kept thinking whilst reading it. The story line is something that unfortunately is so commonplace in a lot of schools. I would definitely recommend Failure to Protect by Pamela Samuels Young to those aged 18+. I think this is a book that everyone should read and can relate to on at least some level. If you do decide to read Failure to Protect (which you should), please know that you'll feel a vast range of emotions!
(A special thank you to Pamela Samuels Young for providing me with an eBook of Failure to Protect in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)
Award-winning author and attorney Pamela Samuels Young writes mysteries that matter. Dubbed “John Grisham with a sister’s twist” by one reviewer, Pamela’s fast-paced novels tackle important social issues.

Her most recent legal thriller, Failure to Protect, takes on the bullying epidemic and its devastating aftermath. Pamela won the prestigious NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction for her thriller Anybody’s Daughter, which provides a realistic look inside the world of child sex trafficking. Her courtroom drama Abuse of Discretion centers around a troubling teen sexting case. #Anybody’s Daughter and #Abuse of Discretion are young adult editions of the two books. A young adult version of Failure to Protect goes on sale in December 2019.

Pamela is a frequent speaker on the topics of sex trafficking, bullying, online safety, fiction writing, self-empowerment, and pursuing your passion. To invite Pamela to your book club meeting or to read excerpts of her books, visit her Pamela's website and Sassy Sinclair's website.

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