High Interest is the first book in The Paragon Series by Leigh James. It's a story that looks into corporate espionage. First, we meet the creator of Paragon, Lauren Taylor. Paragon is biomedical company, that works on producing and testing important devices, many of which Lauren hopes to bring to the world. She doesn't care for the fame or wealth, as long as she has enough to fund her experiments. Gabriel Betts is also a CEO; he runs the successful Dynamica and hopes that they can partner with Paragon.
Lauren is kind of boring and I also feel like she's a hyped up character with little background substance. She has a very stereotypical existence; brilliantly smart with little to bring her down, having created her own biomedical company. Yes, she's meant to be smart, but there's something about the way she's written that makes her seem less so. For example, when Clive Warren is known to be visiting the company, she can't think why he's been doing it. He even said himself that he's considering partnering with the company and wants information about their work, so why can't she or anyone else work out why he might be visiting...? Is it not obvious? Why do she and Gabriel, two supposedly smart people, need to spend so long determining what Clive's doing...? Gabriel Betts, as mentioned just now, is meant to be smart as well. Yet the majority of his existence in the novel is showing off. He doesn't really add anything really intelligent to it, simply showing off his money at every point. My other consideration is that, after only meeting each other twice, Lauren is unnecessarily laughing at Gabriel's comments as if she's trying to impress him. When I say comments, I mean things that aren't even meant to be jokes. It's weird and seems very forced. Not to mention, on their second date, Gabriel is talking about bashing Clive's head in, just for having a date with Lauren. The relationship between Lauren and Gabriel is very forced and neither of them seems likeable. I thought it unfortunate for her that she would want to continue dating him in the first place; threatening violence at such a non-issue is definitely a reason to steer clear of Gabriel. His constant threats to Clive are completely unnecessary.
Other characters also seem lack lustre. Hannah, for example, is Lauren's sister. She's very encouraging and seems to press Lauren into doing things that Lauren doesn't want to do. I wouldn't want to know her if she tries to make people do things that they don't want to do. It also seems like she's riding on her sister's coat tails; in the book, we don't see her do much save for trying to convince her sister to date rich men. Clive Warren is another potential love interest for Lauren, made to look utterly annoying. At first, Clive isn't as bad a person as the author makes him out to be. Yet, for some reason, Lauren makes him out to be a creep. He, like Gabriel, took Lauren out to a meal and made an offer to partner with the company. Yet, the author writes it as if Lauren automatically hates him, even though Clive has done nothing very different than Gabriel has. Until the next day, he didn't really do much wrong in my eyes. It's a double standard, really; we're obviously meant to prefer one male over the other, which (in my opinion) is a poor quality to the story. Yes, Clive did turn out to do something wrong, but those portions weren't written very well. It happens far too quickly and we don't get a lot of the back story of the situation, which is important to creating the scene. For example, we have little knowledge of their prior contact. They were meant to have known each other and then he went to China (he made a joke about taking her back there with him). So, he can't have been that bad of a person if she agreed to a date with him now. So, why is he such a bad person now...? I don't understand what the author is trying to do. Was it because he didn't ask her whether she ate meat or not? Lots of people don't do that...
The book itself has an interesting premise. I appreciate that the author has tried to write people to be intelligent, but that point doesn't really get properly put across. Especially considering that neither Lauren nor Gabriel seems to make very smart decisions. A few examples: spending an entire dinner on trying to figure out something that was completely obvious, Gabriel's constant threats of violence which would simply get him put in prison and accomplish nothing, and Lauren's ignorance to dating and how weirdly she was acting... Like I said, I appreciate the attempt to make smart characters, but these ones are just lacking. The book and basic plot seems kind of reminiscent of other things I've read and lacks a distinct uniqueness. It's a fairly typical dating portion as well; main character dates #1 and it goes well, then dates #2 and (for no reason) it goes badly. #1 (for no reason) wants to harm #2. It's not very original, especially given that there was no reason for either Lauren or Gabriel to initially hate Clive. For improvements, I think it could have all been explained a lot better and to have the work spread across a realistic timeline. There's obviously a lot of information that we're missing and a lot of things that the author didn't make available to the reader. It feels like there's a lot left on the editing room floor, if you catch my drift.
Overall, it's a book that I wanted to like; a book about corporate espionage in a biomedical company...? It sounds great! Yet, neither the characters nor events are very original. Plus, like I've said, there's a lot that just doesn't make sense. I don't think I'll be reading the second book.
I received a free eCopy of this book via Instafreebie and these are my honest thoughts of it.