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Review: Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy

criminalA searing and gripping read that explores the depths of desperation true love can inspire, from the author of Being Friends with Boys.


Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.


So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime—a crime that ends in murder—Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.


But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about? Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional…but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

Criminal is a challenging, wrenching, stunningly done book. It’s hard, though, to really explain all the reasons it captivated me without giving anything away, but there is a rawness to it that is hard to find, yet so easy to fall into. This is a book that will absolutely make you think.

Nikki is an amazingly well done character, with plenty of faults and someone who is, honestly, not always the easiest to like. She’s a realistic blend of naïve, intentionally oblivious, and, well, dumb. There are some striking moments of clarity, however, mixed into the determination and pain she also goes through, and her overall character arc will resonate. She loves Dee, even through his faults, a blind love that can be as rewarding as it can be damaging. What she goes through, the circumstances she’s pulled into, pack a punch.

I loved the story line of this one. There is an ease to it, and though there are some twists, the bigger point of it isn’t shocking readers with unexpected events, but how Nikki handles everything. What I loved even more, though, was just how much this book made me think. Nikki doesn’t realize what’s going to happen when Dee comes to pick her up on the morning things turn bad, and though there is a part of her which recognizes things aren’t good, there’s the part of her that not only loves Dee blindly but wants to protect herself that ignores it. Her actions aren’t necessarily excusable, but they are understandable. McVoy pitches an amazing take on being an accessory to a crime, and owning up to it. With strong writing, and a vivid voice which is so very obviously Nikki, this one had me hooked and was a read in one sitting kind of book.