Book Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas

Goodreads: Credence
Publisher: Penelope Douglas LLC
Published: 13 January 2020
Genre: New Adult Dark Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Three of them, one of her, and a remote cabin in the woods. Let the hot, winter nights ensue…

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 a full length, stand-alone romance suitable for readers 18+.

TL;DR: This book is not going to be for everyone but I’m glad I gave Penelope Douglas another try with this book. It’s taboo AF and there’s a lot of outrageous things that won’t sit well with many readers (dub con, bullying, violence) so I would highly recommend checking out content/trigger warnings before picking it up. That said, Penelope Douglas masterfully sets the scene in the remote mountains and it really does feel like anything can happen—and it does, obvi. PD also does something with these characters that had me wholly invested in their story that I literally stayed up all night to finish this almost 500-page book.

The first half of the book is a bit of a slow burn as we’re introduced to the main characters: Tiernan, Jake, Noah and Kaleb. While most of the book is seen through Tiernan’s POV, we do get chapters from the three guys and I thought it was clever how PD changed those as the story went on in tandem with the shift of ‘love interests’. There’s such depth to these characters and it’s clear that there’s a lot of pain, anger and resentment in their histories that they’ve kept with them until now. It gets quite angsty at times and that increases as the chemistry between these characters grow and as they fight that attraction. It was easy to empathise with them and it didn’t feel manipulative but their experiences were so sad to read about, especially Tiernan’s and Kaleb’s. Some of the situations they talked about really gutted me!

While all the characters were distinct, I found myself partial to Jake, who was so well-developed in the first half and I loved how his relationship with Tiernan evolved as she got to know all three of them better platonically (well, mostly); but it wasn’t smooth sailing by any means and some scenes were definitely hard to read. Noah was like a cute little puppy who just wanted love and attention and to talk to someone and I liked his cheeky playful attitude. Kaleb was definitely the dark, mysterious, broody and dangerous of the three and while my heart broke for what happened to him as a child, I had a harder time feeling for his character in comparison to the others.

Once we hit the halfway point the smut really… Well, explodes (for lack of a better word lol 😂)? There was such a strong build-up of emotions and very intense sexual attraction between these characters and it was literally like a blow-up when it happens. The entire situation they find themselves in is quite outrageous (obvs) and it was… definitely something!

I was honestly a bit sad and (initially) surprised by who Tiernan chose to pursue because I found that connection the least strong out of all of them, but it was also the fact that she chooses him so late in the book when certain dynamics had already been well-established. I mean, I ultimately got on board the pairing by the end because it was somewhat healing and they were obviously very happy—though that’s not to say these relationships are healthy at all and they’re not to be romanticised! However, I was very much team Jake and I was disappointed that as we got closer to the end, his perspective and his established relationship and chemistry with Tiernan just kind of disappeared? I thought the way Tiernan just “shuts off” her strong feelings and chemistry with the two “unchosen” guys was pretty abrupt and it honestly felt a little off, since it was built up so much in the first half.

All in all, this was a highly entertaining, albeit extremely taboo read, and while I’m glad I gave PD another chance, I’m still not sure that I will continue reading more of her work as I get the feeling she does a lot of bully romances(?) and that’s not my jam. I’m almost tempted to re-read the first book I read by her though! Ngl, I wouldn’t be mad if we got spin-offs for the other two guys so they get their HEAs (pls) cos I would 100% read that. 😂

Have you read Credence or is it on your TBR? What Penelope Douglas book would you recommend to a PD “newbie”?

12 thoughts on “Book Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas

    • It’s definitely not for everyone but if you’re “okay” with reading taboo romances I think PD would be the author to check out (or so I’ve heard). This one was definitely taboo but I surprisingly enjoyed it! I hope you do too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I thought this was definitely more of a love square what with the three guys 😂 But yeah… this one surprised me in a good way! Not sure if I’ll keep reading PD though cos don’t know if her other stuff would really be my jam!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Credence is so high on my TBR and reading your review makes me want to shoot it right to the very top. I love the way you describe how the emotion and attraction really builds up. I’m a little concerned with how the MC apparently just closes down her feelings for the other two at the end, but I’m still super excited to give this one a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been on my TBR for ages but I’m glad I finally picked it up lol! PD really built the characters and their dynamic up well, but I was a little disappointed with how certain things just fizzled out. Would be keen to hear your thoughts on it! I hope you enjoy it 🙂


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