Credence – Penelope Douglas

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Independently Published
Pages: 485
Release Date: January 13, 2020

Tiernan de Haas doesn’t care about anything anymore. The only child of a film producer and his starlet wife, she’s grown up with wealth and privilege but not love or guidance. Shipped off to boarding schools from an early age, it was still impossible to escape the loneliness and carve out a life of her own. The shadow of her parents’ fame followed her everywhere.

And when they suddenly pass away, she knows she should be devastated. But has anything really changed? She’s always been alone, hasn’t she?

Jake Van der Berg, her father’s stepbrother and her only living relative, assumes guardianship of Tiernan who is still two months shy of eighteen. Sent to live with him and his two sons, Noah and Kaleb, in the mountains of Colorado, Tiernan soon learns that these men now have a say in what she chooses to care and not care about anymore. As the three of them take her under their wing, teach her to work and survive in the remote woods far away from the rest of the world, she slowly finds her place among them.

And as a part of them.

She also realizes that lines blur and rules become easy to break when no one else is watching.

One of them has her.

The other one wants her.

But he…

He’s going to keep her.


Credence is one of those novels you’ll either like or not. It’s hard to balance a novel like this because of its taboo subject.

I probably should have rated Credence lower than three stars, but I enjoyed the first ¾ of the novel. It’s a messy taboo romance that blurs the lines of consent all too often, but it doesn’t present itself as anything different than what readers get.

The ending was ridiculous and came out of nowhere. Tiernan’s relationship with each of the men is different and offers her a learning experience: lust, learn, and love. 

“My mother said the first boy—or man—is a crush.
You think you love them, but what you really love is how they make you feel. It’s not love. It’s lust. Lust for attention. Lust for danger. Lust to feel special. (…) The second is to learn about yourself. Your first crush has been crushed. You’re sad, but most of all, you’re angry. Angry enough to not let it happen again. (…) Love. When the lessons of your weakness with number one and your selfishness with number two sink in, and you find a medium. When you know who you are and you’re ready to welcome everything he is, and you’re not afraid anymore.”

This concept resonated with me more than I thought it would. It’s interesting and thought provoking. Unfortunately, I disagree with who Douglas assigned each of the men in her relationship journey. I find it unbelievable and unacceptable who she ended up with given their previous interactions. Near the end of the novel, Tiernan is professing her love to one of the men and I just couldn’t help but ask “when did that happen?”. I mean, he tries to rape her at one point, but it’s okay because she kind of liked it despite her screaming no and to stop. I mistyped earlier, this isn’t blurring consent lines. This is blowing right past them. This isn’t a fantasy novel. He can’t read her mind that she might like the aggression, so the only feedback he’s getting is her yelling to stop.

Not surprising anyone, Tiernan is a virgin. She hasn’t so much as kissed another person. Tiernan is also emotionally stunted, so she sometimes reads as younger than she is, making some of the scenes with her uncle uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than the fact that he’s her uncle. But not really.

Despite all these complaints, there is an enjoyable story to be found. The setting is atmospheric and creates this cult-like feeling. Credence is entertaining, if nothing else.

Overall, Credence is a novel you’ll either love or hate because of its risque plot. These kinds of novels come with trigger warnings and blurred consent, so if those are things you dislike in any type of romance, Credence is not for you.


Have you read Credence? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “Credence – Penelope Douglas

  1. I read it and I hated it. Probably in part for what you said but also because I couldn’t help viewing her as a dog in heat! And that made me mad at myself because I realized I was judging her and was maybe narrow minded. But the truth is it is how I felt. Alo I might confess that I don’t like reverse harem but prefer one relationship at a time LOL. So as you said it’s a love or hate kind of book. I also might add that if we had a male hero and he acted like her I wouldn’t have liked it either.

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