Being a heavy reader I feel it’s safe to say that I have read all kinds of romances. I have read some sweet ones, some boring ones and some pretty twisted ones. CRIMINAL definitely falls into the twisted category. As we meet Nikki and see how helplessly (and unconditionally) in love (or maybe a better word is obsessed) she is with Dee I found myself hating the romance in this book and pitying Nikki so badly, but that’s exactly how I was supposed to feel.I could not empathize with Nikki personally, but she did feel like a girl you would see on that A&E show Beyond Scared Straight. She had fallen in love with a gangbanger and embraced the lifestyle in a very unhealthy way. It was incredibly sad as the reader to see the romance for what it was, to see Dee for who he really was and watch Nikki lose everything for him. He didn’t really care about her, he used her and what’s worse is that generally, he wasn’t even nice to her. After he gets called in and questioned by the cops he’s not in the mood to talk so when Nikki tries to get details out of him and work on their alibi this is what he says: “What if I put my fist straight through that mouth of yours, crush your pipes so you can't talk anymore, huh? What if that?” Straight after this (what Nikki views as a) romantic weekend Dee is gone and as she struggles to deal with the fallout from the crime he completely cuts her out of his life. There was a point where I felt really bad for Nikki because she was so naive but as she continuously thought of how much she needed to be in Dee’s arms, or just hear him call her baby I got so frustrated with her! He treated her like complete crap and yet the only thing that she yearned for was to please him in any way possible.The one solid relationship in Nikki’s life is with her friend Bird whom she lives with because the living situation with her drug addict mother is not good. Seeing Nikki lie to Bird, even when she was pulled into the investigation for the murder frustrated me just as much as her need to please Dee. Bird was the one person in this novel that I had some shred of respect for, she had grown up and gotten her crap together. She was trying to live on the straight and narrow and didn’t stand for what Nikki brought into her life. I think the way that she reacted to everything was completely fair. I guess this is where Nikki’s character starts to grow in the novel, we see her confess to the cops so that the heat is taken off of Bird. As the story progresses we see Nikki (slowly) come to terms with what she had done once she is in jail. She gets blindsided when she gets arrested, she thinks that since she was just driving and didn’t actually kill anybody she should be in the clear which just further enforces her naivety. I’m not really sure how to feel about CRIMINAL. The novel is full of unlikeable characters who make terrible decisions but I couldn’t put down the story. I haven’t come across a book remotely close to this before and while it was uncomfortable at times to read, I really enjoyed it. I felt bad for Nikki in the beginning, got to a point where I was angry with her and then finally just felt scared for her. I think any book that can pull that much emotion out of you is a good book. I couldn’t put myself in her shoes, her situation was very different from any life I have ever known but there are teens getting themselves mixed up in these criminal lifestyles everyday. I really enjoyed McVoy’s writing here, it was straight and the the point, not flowery. It served the tone and setting of the story perfectly. She does an excellent job crafting characters that feel authentic and creating a love story that is really about how blind love can make you. What served this story best is how linear the plot was, it was constantly moving forward in the aftermath of the murder and didn't stray at all from the story at hand which makes it a story that you don't want to put down.An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.--You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.