REVIEW: Credence by Penelope Douglas

Posted January 21st, 2020 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, HJ Recommends, New Adult, Review / 7 comments


In Credence by Penelope Douglas, Growing up with famous parents in Hollywood should have been a blessing for only child Tiernan de Haas. Money, vacations, designer clothing, the seventeen year old has plenty of…stuff. But the two things she craves most, love and attention, she’s never had. After the tragic death of both her parents, Tiernan finds herself being shuffled off to her step-uncle’s home in remote Chapel Peak, Colorado. Even though she’s never met Jake Van der Berg, or her step-cousins Noah and Kaleb, she figures she’ll give staying with them a try. At least the mountain scenery will be beautiful. And Tiernan’s certainly used to being the odd person out, so that won’t be anything new.

‘It doesn’t matter where I go–how I change my surroundings or run from all the places and people I don’t want to see. I’m still me. Running, leaving, hiding…
There’s no escape.’

But once Tiernan meets her “family” and realizes she’ll be holed up with the three strangers for the entire snowy winter alone, she’s not sure it’s such a good idea. Then tension between them is unnerving. Tiernan has never been so conflicted in her feelings before and has no one to turn to in hopes of sorting through it all. One thing she does know is that Kaleb, Jake, and Noah are fiercely protective of her. Which, even though it’s a little scary, is also nice. Tiernan has never felt so much affection or like someone has her best interest at heart before the Van der Bergs. And she’s not at all certain she’ll be able to leave them once springtime rolls around.

I stop to face him… “I’m not their property.”
“Everything on their property is their property… They live by different rules up here, Tiernan.”

Credence was a dark romance where taboo relationships were explored as four individuals tried to bond and move on from the tragedies and harrowing incidents they had survived over the years.

“And I want you to know that no matter where you go,” he tells me between kisses, “you’ll always be ours. We’re your home.”

Trigger warning: View Spoiler »

First off: Credence will *not* be a book that will work for everyone. It is super twisted, dark and forbidden, and pushes some major boundaries. It’s difficult to explain without giving away too much, but you can imagine where things led to with an almost eighteen year old beautiful girl moving into a remote location with three handsome guys right before winter, where they were going to be snowed in for months. Yep. Lots of sexy time. And where Tiernan was technically family–even though she’d never met them before and they were not blood related–the attraction to her “step-uncle” Jake and his sons Kaleb and Noah, her “step-cousins”, might put some readers off. It honestly skirted the line for me at times. But somehow with Penelope Douglas’s emotionally-driven writing and with seeing things through the multiple POVs, it worked out okay in the end for me.

There was an interesting mix of characters and personalities in Credence. And I honestly think that’s what held my attention most was seeing Tiernan interact with the guys and with the locals from the closest town. Some of it was, yes, over the top. But it was raw and honest, watching her heal from the loss of her parents while also learning who she truly was as an individual. Tiernan had a lot of drama in her life unfortunately. And Kaleb, Noah and Jake brought even more of it to the situation. I do think readers will (eventually) like where each character ended up, but boy will it be a bumpy ride getting to that point. Of all of them, I think Kaleb is likely the one who will be the most misunderstood/least liked until the last quarter or so of the story. So basically, I’d say to just give each of them a chance to show their true selves and you might be surprised in a good way.

Leave it to Penelope Douglas to create such a compelling, tangled up story. Erotic, provocative, and ultimately filled with joy and love, Credence was a reading experience I won’t soon forget.


Book Info:

Publication: Published January 13th 2020 | Penelope Douglas LLC |

From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Douglas comes a new standalone…

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 new adult standalone novel suitable for readers 18+.



7 Responses to “REVIEW: Credence by Penelope Douglas”

  1. Renee

    Renee’s review Feb 28, 2020 Agree – sort of 🙂 but…..

    Like a steam train driving into the depths of anyone’s soul, Credence is definitely not a quiet book that will lie on any shelf too long. Compelling, and at times sublime writing, carries the overarching themes of trauma, abandonment, loss, into a sea of Deliverance-like waves that could potentially crush an idle unsuspecting reader. Naturally, on the other side, we find ourselves beached in love, loyalty, connection, and home. I recommend a disclaimer of sorts. In many ways, it feels and sinks in ‘otherworldly’ and certainly, not being small town – mountain reared North American, I felt a little out of my tribe at times. But the tribe is bright and clear on the peak it is set facing.
    My only serious questions are – where is the prologue between her father and Jake? Why weren’t the narrative voices punctuated in time/years/seasons if the ending (and the context throughout) was wrapped in it – 5 Years later? And finally, are we to believe that love is the voice to silence in trauma and violence is the path to love and survival?
    I really like her though. There was very little I disliked about Tiernan and truth be told, all of the characters. They all made sense despite, and even in-spite of their individual trauma narratives. There was very little that didn’t add up or make sense or was unreasonable…..except – I don’t believe forgiveness or even love are more powerful than abuse. Power is fluid of course, and Credence did everything in its own to remind its reader of this – but at times I felt it ran risks that I think are fundamentally questionable. (Again – from Coastal Australia not Mountainous secluded North America.) What a journey it is. Beautiful, peaceful, savage, barbaric, raw and probably most importantly honest. Hence, I found this to be a really conflicting read that I think I might ponder for a few days – so well done Penelope Douglas. Tiernan’s narrative voice and awareness is on point at times, but at others, that of a 40 or 45 year old who has had the benefit of hindsight to digest why things are and what experiences mean in the grand scheme. At other times, she is right where she should be, innocent, unclear, and figuring it out in all of its awkward beauty.
    Summarily, this is a compelling read and I highly recommend folk ‘rip it off’ like a bandaid and take a couple of glasses of good wine to work out where they stand.

    • Michele H

      Lovely, honest review, Renee! It’s definitely a story that sticks with you and leaves you almost a little unsettled in a way, so you have to give it some room to sink in. I agree about Tiernan’s father and Jake! That’s a great point–and I didn’t really think about it until a couple of days after I finished reading that it would have been nice to get their backstory.

      • Renee

        Agree entirely Michelle. I have read 3 other books since and it is still sitting in my head humming away and prompting me to question and unpack some of my pre-conceived ideas about life. For me, that always equates to a powerful book. And despite the challenging themes, ideas and scenes, that, for me, is winner every time. :). Happy reading!