★★★ In Peggy Dougherty’s Age Matters, age isn’t just a number—it’s everything to Kay Baldwin, whose script ‘Pick of the Litter’ is in the final round for SimonTelz Productions’ screenplay competition. Afraid of being judged for not resembling the typical Hollywood type, she recruits her soon-to-be-married daughter Lori to stand in for her at meetings with the dashing Joel Telzmon and his prickly partner Simon Stouffer. One thing leads to another, and soon Kay is caught up in a flourishing romance and an IRS investigation in addition to the competition, her practice as a nutritionist, and wedding plans. Age Matters takes a hard look at the ageism present in Hollywood, while also serving as a love letter to Los Angeles and the art of writing.
Age Matters contains something seen far too little in literature: a realistic and romantic relationship between two grown adults. Kay and Joel’s romance was very sweet and believable. The intimate scenes have a lot of potential, but some of the language used was too blunt in the context of the whole novel and pulled the reader out of the moment. It’s clear the author loves food, and the amount of business lunches and romantic home-cooked meals help to create a Los Angeles that revolves as much around Caprese salad as it does well-written scripts. There are quite a few twists in the novel that are shocking, but don’t quite feel earned—sometimes the premise for the twist is set up only pages before the author pulls the rug out. The dialogue is repetitive at times, and the novel is overlong because of it, but the author’s light touch of humor and gift of description keep the plot moving.