Book Critique - Judgment Road (Torpedo Ink #1)

For reviews of all books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Definitely gorier and grittier than the previous series by Christine, but a good beginning to another hard and powerful series.

Judgment Road is the first book in the Torpedo Ink Series by Christine Feehan published in January of 2018. This is another spin-off in her Sea Haven Novels – first set was The Drake Sisters series (My review of that series here) and the second set was the Sisters of the Heart series (My review of that series here). In the final book of the Sisters of the Heart series, Bound Together (My review here), we were introduced to most of the members of the Torpedo Ink Motor Cycle Club who is led by Viktor “Czar” Prakenskii – the oldest Prakenskii brothers - who had married Blythe Daniels – oldest of the Sisters of the Heart as well as cousin to The Drake Sisters. Czar forms a bridge between the Sisters of the Heart and Torpedo Ink Series. So technically there would be 17 more books by Christine in the biker club series as there are 17 more member in the Torpedo Ink Biker Club.

The first book in the series begins in Judgment Road and the plot revolves around Savva “Reaper” Pajari – Sergeant at Arms of the Torpedo Ink Club protecting Czar all the time – and Anya Rafferty – a bartender at the club. In the Bound Together plot, there was a lot of character evolution for Alena “Torch” Koval so I had expected Christine’s first book in the new series would be around her. However, Christine started with Reaper – obviously Czar was more concerned about him, so I am guessing Christine gave him a plot first.

Torpedo Ink Motorcycle Club consists of 18 men and women who had survived the most brutal training schools in Russia. They formed a family of sort under the leadership of Victor "Czar" Prakenskii, finally finding freedom on the road belonging to their club. After years of doing undercover work to hunt the most cruel criminals, they find the town of Sea Haven where they settle and build for the first time a home for themselves. The stories in this series follow each of the members of the club.

Anya Rafferty is on the run from something or is a mole according to Savva “Reaper” Pajari. He want her out of job, out of the club, and out of Sea Haven for good. But her soul tugs at his and he falls for her charm. Anya though fights him off, falls for Reaper too. But both carry enough baggage to drown them in before they can find each other. And that baggage comes in the form of many threats and enemies to the club. The rest of the plot continues on how Anya and Reaper wade through this and come out on top.

With all of her series’, Christine had some kind of connection between the men and women of the plots – Carpathians chose psychic humans to bond as lifemate, Leopard People chose their mates time and again, Ghoswalkers were paired to each other by the evil scientist Dr. Peter Whitney, Drake Sisters recognized the powers in their other half to take them as husband while the Prankenskii brothers bonded to each of the Sisters of the Heart and one Drake Sister through a connection that burned on their palms. In each of the series there was some kind of psychic element that tied the men and women. With the Torpedo Ink Series I was wondering how would she bind the men and women. The members of the club are definitely telepathic and trained physically and psychically with enhanced powers. However I couldn’t decipher in this plot at least as to how Christine made the lead character to choose their partner. Perhaps in future books I might see that being explained more.

Being the enforcer of the club, Reaper shoulders his responsibility with pride but his soul scars every time he kills. Anya complements to him by simply accepting him as he is and thus soothing his enraged soul. Perhaps that is the connection that Christine is pointing out to the readers when she binds the male with the female.

With this book, the reader also gets to know more about a motor cycle club, they are not just gangsters and drug runners, but much more and bigger. Christine makes the two female members – Lana and Alena - of the Torpedo Ink club as fully patched members giving them the right to vote, making the club more unique. I liked the fact that Christine doesn’t showcase them as just females who need protection but as warriors who could and would fight to the end if needed.

We also get introduced to the cruel politics between different clubs, their open nakedness and grim logistics of how the clubs are run in general. Torpedo Ink Club may be more moral and ethical compared to other clubs Christine introduces us to, but still the darker shades of a biker club world are not lost on the reader. Christine also finds a way through the ways of Torpedo Ink Club to address social evils such as counterfeiting and laundering money, drugs and kidnappings.

Christine exposes the reader to the tortures that the 18 Torpedo Ink members had faced, more from Reaper’s point of view and his tortures and sins and bit of other members too. It raised the hairs on the back of my neck and spread a shudder across my spine. How can a human being inflict so much pain on another human being. As every book I read of Christine I think this is it, this is the maximum someone can be cruel towards another. But then Christine spins out a new torture or evil force lurking in human mind unleashed on innocents. So much evil is out there that almost feels heavy and pushing the goodness down farther down.

Christine brings a few characters from the previous two Sea Haven Series in this series – Gavriil Prakenskii and Casimir Prakenskii become newly patched members of the club; Jonas Harrington – the local Sheriff whom we had seen a lot of in the previous two series of Sea Haven; Jackson Deveau – Deputy Sherriff whom we also had seen a lot in the previous two series. It is a good thing that Christine continues the flow of the characters from the past series into the new series. However how many more we will see or how in-depth will we see them is something we have to wait for her to explore and pen down.

Road to redemption is certainly not an easy path for these 18 members of the club. A very gritty and gorier plot to begin the series with. There is a lot of f-bombs and open nudity that I was cringing at times. As much as I want to read the next book in this series, I would tread it cautiously and judge it one book at a time. However for those not-so-faint at heart this would be a good book to take up.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot Reveals:

a. New people other than the members of Torpedo Ink are introduced to the readers:

i. Fatei , Glytch and Hyde – New prospects of the club. How their stories will meld with the club stories is something to watch for.

ii. Bannister – an aged biker who hands out at the bar belonging to the club.

b. Lucia “Code “ Litvin, the Treasurer of the club, has a friend who is a hacker calling herself “Cat”. Will Christine pair Code with Cat?

c. Pierce – road captain for Diamondback Motorcycle Club – has eyes on Alena. Christine mentions enough in the plot for a reader to wonder if there would be a plot for Alena pairing with Pierce.

d. The Torpedo Ink Club comes across a Ghost Club that is threatening all other clubs in meaner ways and methods that the Torpedo Ink members recognize as something from the schools they were trained in. They had destroyed all the schools and the monsters who had survived leaving only those who had truly turned a new leaf like them. But was there another school that they had missed. A definite big segue that Christine could use for in the next 16 books that she would write in this series.

e. The Club votes to rescue a boy who was being auctioned off online. I am guessing this would be the topic for the next book. But I wonder who will it be centered on.

f. Leslee Huber - a friend of Elle - is mentioned in Bound Together. As I guessed we get to see a bit more of her in this book. However I was wondering if she would be one of the Torpedo Ink member’s mate, but looks like she has a husband. Oh well, there goes my hope of a sub-plot. Or is it?

2) Sub- Plots:

a. A misunderstanding between Ilya Prakenskii and Viktor Prakenskii is shown in Bound Together (Sisters of the Heart #6). Lev Prakenskii joins with Ilya on this. Will Christine bring this up in a future book in Torpedo Ink Series?

b. Four children - 3 girls (Lucia, Nicia and Siena) and 1 boy (Benito) - who were saved from the human trafficking ring by Arianna Ridell and Maxim Prakenskii are adopted by them and living on the farm. Will they be connected to the Torpedo Ink folks in anyway?

c. More children adopted by Viktor and Blythe in Bound Together – Darby Henessey, Zoe Henessey, Emily Henessey and Kenny. I am guessing we will see more of them as the Torpedo Ink Series proceeds. 

d. There is also a hint of new enemy against the Prakenskiis and the members of Torpedo Ink in Bound Together plot. All the notes left by Viktor never reached their brothers. Then there are the missing tapes of the tortures the Torepdo Ink members suffered at the hands of Uri Sorbacov and Kostya Sorbacov since they were kids. Who would be that new enemy? Who else other than the Sorbacovs knew about the sadistic schools that they ran to create super soldiers? Could it be Walter Sandlin from Bound Together, who just slips out of the grasps of the biker club? A lot of plots for the series in my opinion for Christine to write about.

3) Still makes me wonder though how did Christine come up with the number 17 for this series. A question I would like to ask her personally if I meet again.

4) Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 220, Christine talks about the patched jacket Reaper had made for Anya. On the back of the jacket it is written “Property of Torpedo Ink. Reaper.” Shouldn’t it be “Property of Reaper. Torpedo Ink” because Anya technically belongs to Reaper first.

b. On Pg. 286, Christine corrects it as “Property of Reaper” while quoting what was written on Anya’s jacket.

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