As Meg Cabot:

The Princess Diaries: Book One

As Meggin Cabot:

The Boy Next Door

As Patricia Cabot:

An Improper Proposal

Kiss the Bride

Lady of Skye

Portrait of My Heart

Where Roses Grow Wild

She Went All the Way
by Meggin Cabot
(Avon, $6.99, R,) ISBN 0-06-008544-4
Reading a Meggin Cabot romance is a lot like a great night out with the girls: things get a little crazy, there’s lots of talking, even more laughing, and you come away thinking, “Gee, I needed that.” She Went All the Way further demonstrates Cabot’s knack for mixing romance and comedy to produce a sexy, fun read.

Lou Calabrese is a Hollywood screenwriter with a recent Academy Award under her belt. She is just a Long Island girl at heart, growing up in a family where all the male members tend to be cops. This fact has had some impact on her career, since she has enjoyed great success writing a series of police adventure films. Now as “Copkiller IV” is in production in Alaska, Lou’s life takes a few unexpected turns.

First off, her longtime boyfriend, actor Bruno di Blase, jilts Lou. Bruno has been a fixture in Lou’s life since he was just plain ole Barry Kimmel from Bay Haven Central High. To further Barry’s career, Lou wrote him a star vehicle movie, “Hindenberg”, which soared to the top of the box office, making him an instant star. Lou scored a gold statue, but is crushed when Barry suddenly marries his co-star from the film, the vacuous British beauty, Greta Woolston.

Lou must focus on “Copkiller IV” production, even as her personal life unravels. The star of “Copkiller” is action movie hunk Jack Townsend, who plays Detective Pete Logan. Lou dislikes Jack because of the way he comes from big Manhattan money and the way he leaves a wake of broken hearts, especially one belonging to Lou’s good friend, Vicky. Mostly she hates the way he removed a line from her screenplay dialogue-- “ It’s always funny until someone gets hurt”-and instead immortalized his own words, “I need a bigger gun” which became Logan’s catch phrase. Now Lou is called to the set in the Alaskan wilderness, where environmentalists are protesting the filmmakers’ impact on local wildlife.

Jack Townsend finds himself caught up in the hubbub of publicity when his recent squeeze, Greta Woolston, up and marries her “Hindenberg” costar. Jack isn’t exactly heart broken, in fact he stirs up a little scandal of his own when another of his girlfriends causes a ruckus in a hotel room. Jack takes the blame, then welcomes the chance to hide out on the Alaskan set of his next “Copkiller” movie. Knowing that Lou is no fan of his, he shares her lack of enthusiasm as they fly to the set with only their helicopter pilot for company.

With out giving too much away, Lou and Jack end up practicing survival in the wintry wilderness. (Luckily, they stumble onto suitable, even cushy, shelters at nighttime.) They quickly learn a lot more about each other. Her self esteem battered by Barry’s desertion, Lou reasons that a womanizing mega-star like Jack could never want her. Meanwhile she’s not immune to his big-screen looks and charisma. Jack, however, is pretty down to earth for a movie idol. He really likes Lou’s resourcefulness, bravery, and brains, and finds her quite lovely.

The many references to actual movies, celebrities, and T.V. reads like a People Magazine at times-- this is cleverly accomplished, though, and serves to make these characters real. It also provides much of the humor as the author delivers line after line of tongue-in-cheek references.

The whole “Copkiller” thing was a crackup, especially as Lou and Jack proceed to use parts of the screenplays to help them in a pinch. The “Hindenberg” film, with its sappy theme song flooding the airwaves and torturing these characters, was an inspired potshot at Hollywood blockbusters. Jack complains that his character is being made to gratuitously flash his backside in every feature, because the movie-going public has come to expect it. I felt a definite sisterhood with Lou when she fantasized about “ that hot guy from the ‘Horatio Hornblower’ series on A&E”. The fact that such snippets will definitely date this story seems not to matter to Cabot, and surely adds to the fun.

So, why not 5 hearts, you ask? The murder mystery runs out of gas even as it serves its purpose in the book. The colorful secondary characters lack depth and everyone gets a paragraph at the end of the book to tie up loose ends. This reads like a Christmas card form letter. Still, Cabot delivers where it really counts and I enjoyed the romance and humor in She Went All the Way immensely. I’ll recommend it to the gang on the next girls’ night out.

--Deann Carpenter

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