Title: Chuffed (Finnshifters #1)
Author: Tia Fielding
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com Chuffed
Genre: Shifter/Paranormal Romance
Length: Novella (124 pages)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: Average romance with an average suspense sidestory, it would have been better if one or the other had been strong enough to be the primary focus of the book.
Blurb: Mikael Jarvela may only be a half shifter, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be alpha of the eastern Finland farm-turned-sanctuary his father founded. Six wolves, a red fox, a black jaguar, and a lynx all think of him as the head of the family. But Mikael doesn’t have anyone to call his own until he comes across an injured Siberian tiger in the woods.
From the moment the animal recovers and Mikael and Maxim meet face to human face, the attraction between them is undeniable. They strike up a tentative relationship, but they’re both proud men, and their egos keep getting in the way. Just when it looks like their romance is doomed, an outside threat to the family—to Mikael—forces Maxim to choose between the life of solitude he knows and the love and companionship that could be his if he stays.
I blame Anthony Bourdain for making me read this book. I recently watched an episode of No Reservations in which he traveled to Finland. The show was filled with saunas, drinking, and a strange new culture I hadn’t seen before. Suddenly I had an urge to take a trip to Finland. What can I say, when I saw Chuffed was about Finnish shifters, it piqued my interest.
The main characters are Mikael and Maxim. Mikael is the half-shifter owner of the farm. His farm offers sanctuary to the various shifters in the region and Mikael is the leader of the eclectic group living there. His role is made difficult due to his inability to shift. It puts him at a disadvantage when strong shifters visit the farm and challenge him to establish their dominance or place in the hierarchy. The pack is fearing another challenge when Maxim, an injured tiger shifter, is discovered on their property They soon learn that their fears are unfounded when it comes to Maxim. He has no interest in becoming the leader. Maxim is more interested in finding a place, and possibly a man, where he can feel safe and loved.
I thought the inability to shift and constant need for Mikael to defend his leadership added interest to the storyline. I loved being immersed in the sauna loving Finnish culture Anthony Bourdain had introduced me to and quickly got into the story. I also enjoyed getting to know all of the main pack members which were incredibly well developed. When Maxim was introduced I expected the romance to take over and the sparks to fly. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. With getting to know that many people so quickly, I never hit the point of feeling any special connection to Mikael or Maxim. They were fine but I was more interested in some of the other characters. For that reason, their romance didn’t do much for me.
While I enjoyed the book when I was reading it, I felt let down once I finished. I think there was just too much going on and no one aspect taking priority. There is a substantial challenge to Mikael’s authority with a lot of action and drama surrounding it. Then, there is the budding romance between Mikael and Maxim. I would have enjoyed the book more if either the challenge for pack leadership or the romance had taken the lead and been the focus. When neither did it left me feeling that the book was just OK which was disappointing because it could have been great. The build up of the story and the character development was very good. There was so much potential in the beginning but by the end it fell flat.