Book: She Went All the Way, by Meggin Cabot (2002)
(this review contains very mild spoilers, but nothing that will ruin the read)
The Book Review
It is February, and I just finished two books I had a really hard time getting into, so I took a break from my always-increasing to-be-read pile to reach for an old favorite: Meg Cabot’s She Went All the Way. Before Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot had written a series of historical romance novels under the pseudonym Patricia Cabot, but then in the very early 2000s she started to write contemporary romance under her real name. What followed was a very long career now almost exclusively writing contemporary young adult (YA), middle grade, and adult romance. I’ll admit I haven’t picked up one of her novels in a while, but I’ve always admired the way she tells a story. It’s like her brain works like my brain. If you ever have a conversation with me—or even read this blog regularly—you will see the similarities. Of course, she makes it an art form, while with me it probably just comes out as babbling.
But I digress.
She Went All the Way is a classic romance novel: the two main characters hate each other, until they find out they love each other. The heroine, screenwriter Lou Calabrese, gets accidentally embroiled in a plot to kill a movie star, Jack Townsend, and the two spend most of the book being chased in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness in the winter. So this story has a lot of my favorite themes: a Pride and Prejudice type of romance (even though JT is no Mr. Darcy), a lot of movie references, and a survival element. I love a good story (fiction or not) where the characters need to fight for their survival. But do take She Went All the Way with a grain of salt, because there’s no way those people would have lasted as long as they did on the conditions described. But this is a romance novel, and frostbite would take a little romance out of it.
The characters have good chemistry, the plot develops fast and intensely, the side characters are the comic relief and adorable, and the writing is funny. But the best of this novel (and most of Cabot’s novels) is that the heroine kicks ass and the hero is a genuinely nice guy. A womanizer, yes, but still a nice guy. One of my biggest pet peeves with romance novels is that the male heroes tend to always be rude and mean towards the heroines, but they still see through it and fall in love… bleh. I want to read about the strong and independent women falling for the nice guys. And that’s where Meg Cabot delivers.
The Cover Redesign
I actually had no intention of redesigning this cover, but… the husband saw me reading it and said “Is this about a dog show?” And it’s not. I mean, there is a dog in it, but he is not really a main character… And it always struck me as odd the dog on the cover, but I never really thought much of it. But after his comment, I decided to come up with a new cover for it.
The redesign rules: must take me less than a hour, it’s not meant to be a finalized cover, but a polished first draft, something I’d share with an author for feedback.
I loved the cover for After She’s Gone designed by Heike Schüssler (author Camilla Grebe), and my first instinct was to just recreate it because it is a perfect fit. But maybe not super romance novel? Also, I didn’t have a wonderful drone shot of a winter forest to work with. So I went with option two from my head, a very simple, vector-like, illustration of a couple embracing in a snowy mountain. It’s a look I’ve been seeing a lot in contemporary romance novels now, and it felt like a good fit. I restrained from adding textures and too much detail, because I wanted it to be very simple. I think that if I was to take this cover to the next leve, I’d re-draw it on Illustrator to get smoother lines, and add more shadowing and details to the couple. I’d maybe play with the color scheme a little more too.
And that’s it! Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the cover I own and my redesign: