Plot: Hannah (Alison Sweeney) has been an institution in her hometown of Eden Lake, as her friendly personality and incredible baking skills have made her business a regular stop for locals. But now she has some competition, as Melanie (Michelle Harrison) has opened a new bakery in town and she’s doing well, with some recipes on hand that Hannah doesn’t offer. A little rivalry kicks in, but eventually Hannah even helps Melanie with some recipes, after it becomes clear that her baking skills aren’t that sharp. This might not be the best move for business, but Hannah knows it is the right thing to do, regardless. But when she drops by the new bakery and discovers Melanie has been shot and killed, the potential rivalry has some locals wondering if Hannah might be involved in the crime. Can Hannah clear her name and track down the real criminal, all while serving cookies and juggling her love life?

Entertainment Value: I will never tire of such drama as two women bantering each other over who is the better baker or who might use frozen pies, so of course, A Peach Cobbler Mystery was a fun watch. The narrative is pushed by a murder mystery, as the series always is, but before the death kicks in, we have some fun, mean girl style drama and I appreciate that. But Hannah is no mean girl, so she plays nice after the drama and that lands her in some trouble, but I still liked seeing a little attitude from the series, even if it was short lived. The focus also shifts a little in this installment, with Hannah’s love life put on the back burner in favor of a more complex mystery to solve, which I think was the right choice. The movie still devotes some time to the ongoing love triangle, but the emphasis on a more interesting mystery helps keep things fresh and to be honest, the romance is running thin by this point. So a slight break to let the investigation side of the series take control was needed and by turn, it allowed the romantic elements to not feel so forced this time around. The end result is to me, the most enjoyable installment in the series and while it remains true to the core Hallmark mystery formula, it mixes things up enough to stand out a little.

This is the third movie in the Murder, She Baked series and as I mentioned above, the love triangle narrative has started to run out of gas. The back and forth of Hannah’s love life, as she debates the engaging, but noncommittal beau versus the available, but safe choice hasn’t produced much to this point. I am sure the juggling of love interests appeals to a lot of the series’ viewers, but Murder, She Baked needs to make something happen with the romances, rather than just stall for time, which is what we’ve seen in these first three installments. But the cast remains likable, so despite the romance being on the mediocre side, the performances are still fun to watch for the most part. Alison Sweeney is back for the third run as Hannah and she continues to shine in the role, carrying the series quite well. I liked that the brief rivalry brought out a little attitude in Hannah, which freshened up the character, but it was restrained enough to keep her likable, so wise choice there. The cast also includes Cameron Mathison, Lisa Durupt, Barbara Niven, and Gabriel Hogan.

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