Men Will Literally Create An Elaborate Christmas-Themed Scavenger Hunt That Takes 60 Years to Be Solved Instead of Going to Therapy

Men Will Literally Create An Elaborate Christmas-Themed Scavenger Hunt That Takes 60 Years to Be Solved Instead of Going to Therapy

Sometimes I think that if I ever get tired of writing romance novels (not likely 😉) I would write mystery novels instead. I love a well-crafted mystery that perfectly paces the clues so the reader figures out the solution right along with the detective. I particularly love a cozy mystery set in a charming small community, and if you give me fall vibes I'm sold. So I was excited to start this year's Holiday Movie Extravaganza with something new from Hallmark--a Christmas romance that is ALSO A MYSTERY! Ground-breaking!

In Mystery on Mistletoe Lane, Heidi (Erica Cerra) has just moved to the cozy town of New Hollow to take a position as Historical Center Director. She's newly divorced, and her two children hate their new home, which is old, drafty, and spooky. But it comes free with the Historical Center job, and also apparently comes fully furnished and hasn't been redecorated at all in a century. On her first day, Erika discovers that handyman David (Victor Webster) was the former Director. Under his leadership, the Historical Center apparently justified having two full time salaries and zero activities, especially not *gasp* Christmas activities. See, David hates Christmas. Heidi, who is a certified Manic Pixie Christmas Freak, can't have that, so she makes it her mission to infuse David and the Historical Center with Christmas spirit. Meanwhile, her children have discovered a clue to a years-old scavenger hunt, and they're learning to love their new home as they discover its secrets.

I say this in the nicest way possible: this is a Christmas mystery your grandma will love. The mystery is strictly cozy, with no violence or darkness. The romance proceeds from long looks to passionate hand-holding to the climactic Christan side-hug you see here:

The main characters are a little older than the typical Hallmark players, and the bulk of the mystery has to do with uncovering a misty, romantic past that is pleasantly lacking in specificity. There's a microfiche machine. Heidi's big innovation to turn the Historical Center around is to include a Tribute Tree, where people can hang an ornament in honor of a lost loved one. Did that idea make me a little weepy? Yes. Does that seem like the sort of thing that would bring throngs of people to the Historical Center? No, not really. By the end of the movie, Heidi and David are in love, but they've also formed a multi-generational family where the kids are more interested in looking at old photo albums than their phones. And at 90 minutes, Grandma will probably make it all the way to the end without dozing off.

Generally, I liked this movie. I would have liked to see a little more heat between the leads, but I get that the Hallmark audience doesn't lean steamy. The old-house-with-secrets plotline reminded me of The Spirit of Christmas, which is considerably weirder than Mystery on Mistletoe Lane. Which reminds me--in the movie, the house is called Mistletoe Manor. Why isn't this called Mystery at Mistletoe Manor? You've got the alliteration right there, begging to be used? That drove me crazy the whole time.

Now that I've broken the seal on my Holiday binge, I'm ready to curl up for some serious movie-watching. What are you looking forward to this year? Let me know!