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+




First let me say upfront that I love Penelope Douglas’s books and that she’s even been so kind to be interviewed for the blog months and months ago.

Second: I won’t rate that book. Because if I had to give a rating based on my liking, I’d give zero or one star max. But I give ratings not only on my like or dislike but also encompassing the book’s writing and the author’s skill. And Penelope did far from a bad job writing wise! It has a plot, it has characters with backstories and that are not unidimensional. It has layers of complexity so the writer DID a good job.
It just wasn’t my jam.

Third: I don’t mind taboo or age gap or step sibling love/sex or… I also don’t mind BDSM etc. Heck, I loved FSOG and totally shouting it even with so many trashing it these days but I don’t care.
Hence, I don’t think I am a prude or a wilting flower or anything
I HATE sharing in books. I need exclusivity. I can’t stand love or lust triangle either, even less quadrangle or anything you want to name.
I don’t like menages. I don’t like reverse harem. And I don’t like smut.

And by “I don’t like” I don’t want to offend anyone liking these because I respect everyone’s taste in books! Who am I to judge as I use Funko Pops who are basically dolls as prop for may bookstagrams? Playing doll when I am nearing 50 I don’t think I am in any place to judge others right?

So, this is 100% a case of “just not my cup of tea at all/ really not how I roll”.

This book hit some hard limits of mine.

And it made me angry…at ME!
Because when I thought that she really was “slutty” I was JUDGING her! Yet I am a woman so that’s totally unacceptable! And I was ashamed of my thoughts, of me.

But honestly, even if it had been a man, I don’t think my thoughts would have been so different.
And then I thought: “Why should I love reading about this? Because of women’s lib and all that jaz???? I can be a liberated woman and not like reading this without being considered as stuck up or anything.
Because …exclusivity is how I roll once again.

I was also very CONFUSED!
Because even if I despised this, I still read it thoroughly till 50%. And it worked ….in some ways. And I was all “Why am I doing this to me????”.

I must confess that after reading it religiously (sorry if this seems blasphemy in this context) till the 50% mark I just jumped till the last chapter and epilogue. To know how it ended.
And then I skimmed back. To see if I could not stand it better. To also have some answers about some past things that just jumping to the conclusion could not give me.

This is certainly also why I won’t rate the book as I don’t feel the right to do it, not having read all the details.

Now I want to bow low to Penelope.
Because she wrote what SHE wanted. What SHE felt. It was not her usual darker genre. The boundaries were exploded. And she did not do a half-hearted job at that (see character’s dimension and backstories above).

Would I recommend it?
If you have similar issues as mine, NO! If I had known this would be the trope for that book I would never have bought it.
But if you don’t need exclusivity. If you like menages, reverse harems. If you like some taboo then hell, GO FOR IT! Because it will totally be your cup of tea and you’ll be in reader’s bliss.

PS: I know that possessiveness and exclusivity surfaced somehow but …too late for me, the damage was done.


Now: let’s talk! Respectfully please. Have you read it? What did you think of it?


Thanks for reading



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  1. My main problem with this book and the reason I don’t think I will be reading any books by Penelope anymore was the romanticization of abuse that was so out of line in this one. Penelope always toyed the line but never went there with at least the books I read from her.

    But in this one:

    The main character ended with her rapist. The story never really aknowledged there was a sex assault or really dealt with it.

    So this made me see that Penelope wasn’t for me anymore. I will always love Birthday Girl, but I won’t read more books from her, if she can’t warn her readers about a sex assault between main characters that stay together, and can treat this as only dark romance. There is no romance in assault.

  2. I completely agree with you. While reading the book, I wondered why so much people were hyping it up, I was disgusted through a lot of scenes, how people weren’t even questioning what the father and his sons were doing to the girl because as you said, if this were to happen in the real world would these same people applaud them? I have nothing against smut but this was triggering to be honest. Thank you for speaking up about it.

  3. You put it nicely; a father and his sons should never be sharing a woman. It is beyond weird. It is wrong. Let alone a barely 18-year-old girl who has been through trauma, and craves love, safety, and a family. You would expect more from a 40-45 year olf father. I hope it never gets to be seen as acceptable in society. Although, very few readers have found it troubling. Most seem to be okay with it. If I had daughters I would never sleep with a man they had slept with or are sleeping with. There are boundaries that should never be crossed.

  4. I am not afraid to be called prude or stuck up. That’s what people call someone who doesn’t agree with them. The book passed all limits. A quadruple between a FATHER and his SONS and a BARELY 18-year-old girl is wrong. Plain and simple. Let’s call it what it is. It is disgusting. A father sharing a girl and fighting with his sons to get in this girl’s pants when she is extremely vulnerable and was looking for a family and love is wrong and abusive. The three of them took advantage of her vulnerable state and her awakening to sexuality. Let’s pass this story into real life. Would it be okay for a father to have sex with the same girl his two sons are having sex? Would it be okay for an adult to take advantage of an (again) barely 18-year-old girl? One thing is to be okay with the age gap, another thing is to be okay with an adult man and father who is supposed to emotionally support and guide a girl who had just lost her parents to satisfy his lust. Page 64 (couch scene) is wrong and people are so focused on getting on with the descriptive sex scene, that they miss KEY points. He says, “Don’t make me do that again.” He is BLAMING the girl for his lack of self-control. The way he talks to her is violent and the way he orders her clearly reflects who is in charge and who has to obey. I repeat, she is barely 18, vulnerable, trapped with 3 men, in a new environment, feels lonely, and confused. In real life would it be okay for these three men to take advantage of her? Would the readers be okay with their father and two brothers sharing a girl? Would anyone intevervene and make sure the girl takes control of her emotions and situation? We have gotten to a point where we justify everything by calling these kinds of situations a taboo and resolving we should just be open-minded. It is possible to be an open-minded person and see the wrong in this story. I would never allow my father to take advantage of a 18-year-old girl and would not be okay with him and my two brothers sleeping with the same woman. Going back to that page, he uses his father’s authority to send his sons (who were about to engage sexually with her) to bed, so he can have his go with her. 2 brothers having a thresome? Seriously? Again, readers are so turn on with the spicy scenes that they cannot think critically. I have two sons and I would be disgusted and disappointed if they had a threesome (at the same time with the same girl). The whole story would have been very different is the three men weren’t family (especially not a father and his two sons), if the girl wasn’t barely 18, and her emotional state wasn’t so vulnerable. I don’t mind threesomes. I don’t mind explicit sex scenes (bring them on). I do mind when a woman is taken advantage of. She was never in charge. She was looking for a family and safety and was met with violence, an attempt sex assault, and being pushed and bullied into having sex.

    1. I think you expressed what made me uncomfortable. The lack of balance in power. And yes I love a taboo romance from time to time but it went too far for me here. Also I don’t mind spicy scenes IF I feel there is real love or feelings underneath. Here I didn’t feel it.

  5. I will be very honest… I had same issues as u faced… And yeah I did the same… Read it half and then my brain just couldn’t… It’s fine till its age gap but it’s a total taboo and am not.ine for taboos… Sharing that too one teenager who is just barely 18 among father and his sons…it’s kind of wierd… And about slut shaming u said i kind of did that as well… Same i got disgusted by myself after that and felt hypocritical… Idk what I will rate this one cuz same… Can’t complete it… It’s just… All for taboos and harem romance genre…

  6. You didn’t think a woman could have written it? That says more about you than it does about the author. And why throw it away when you could donate it to charity or a second-hand book seller for someone to read? Good grief…

  7. Ok, I have to admit this one was a challenge to even grasp. At some point the normalcy of it all truly astounded me into questioning if I was actually overreacting. I would read a page and my eyes would pop out and on the next page i would be saying to myself Wait! Did i imagine that? And all I can say is that it was something else.
    Penelope has a way of making the most bizarre experience feel intimate and I admire that. It’s a gift.
    And as for the Exclusivity? I couldn’t agree more, I want it to center around TWO major characters and that’s just My opinion. I can’t handle more than one entanglement rotating around one protagonist. And after having said this I am only at my 50% mark as well and I haven’t even finished reading the book and I couldn’t go on without knowing how other readers felt and well, Am not crazy! Thank God!

    1. I actually wondered if it had been ghost-written by a man. I didn’t think a woman could write about a girl in this manner. I thought treatment of a girl who just lost both (unloving) parents this way was fairly abhorrent. Very ‘deliverence’. Good writing, Just very base. Kind of upsetting, really. I’m recycling this book into the trash.

  8. I think I disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I think your points are valid but there is something really obvious in your own distaste of a certain topic or theme that at times I just can’t aesthetically agree with you on. You don’t need to personally appreciate ménage to appreciate that someone else might like it. You might not understand trauma or abandonment to have the deepest sympathy to mobilize action for those who have experienced it. And… I must commend the author on this because irrespective, the book prompted a deep, aesthetic response from you. You described a variety of things that you found counter to your taste….and thus, I have to say, Douglas has succeeded in challenging a particularly singular aesthetic of yours. Job well done I say. Who doesn’t want to be challenged aesthetically? bordered on smutty at times – at least conceptually, but I actually don’t think the writing did, or the context, or the characters. So I would have to challenge pre-conceived ideas of ‘feeling’ here.

    Anyway, I struggled at times too, but for me it was more around the Deliverance type elements – I don’t want to shag my family, but maybe they just aren’t hot 🙂

    For me, I think I am okay with the following:

    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.

    1. Well Renee thank you for disagreeing with respect and ..insight 😉 I agree with you when you say that Penelope, generating these strong feelings is me did indeed do a great job! At least I was not indifferent and yes that’s also what I am looking for in books. I didn’t like it though and won’t lie about it but I indeed recognized that penelope did indeed do a great job! Thank you so much for your comment and I am really glad that this book was it for you!

  9. Great points and great review Sophie! You are exactly right and you did both yourself and the author justice with this, because all books can’t be for everyone… And that’s totally okay! I haven’t read Douglas before, but she’s on my list to get to soon!

  10. I’ve enjoyed Penelope in the past too, but I want exclusivity in my books, too! I’m not one for menages or sharing either so I know this wouldn’t be for me. I just never thing they’ll realistically work out long term. But hey that’s me, and I guess we share that opinion. Thanks for letting me know, because I was curious about this one. Fab review, Sophie. 🙂

  11. I’ve never read this author but I gotta respect your opinion and how you handled the “scandal” 🙂 ! Now, I’ll also say that I’m not too big on reverse harems and as for love triangles…well I’m super picky about them. But I do adore a bit of smut here and there!! Anyway, kudos to you my friend, you do you, boo!!

  12. I have only recently heard about Douglas’ books and I do want to try them at some point soon because you know I love me some new adult romance. But I am also someone who is mostly about exclusivity. I did read ONE poly book which I liked but other than that I can’t really get behind sharing… so I know I shouldn’t start on her books with this one.

    1. Olivia, you can begin with her first one Bully! It was the first that she published and I really loved it at the time.

  13. I love book discussions and how we can all have different opinions. I LOVE reverse harem and menage and “sharing” so that aspect raised this book for me but I totally get why it would not be for everyone and respect their (and your!) opinions. While I would have preferred some of the things in this book had gone differently, I also love that the author told the story she wanted to tell. I had some issues with it so it wasn’t a 5 Star for me but I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience.

    1. Thank you for your comment Vicky! And yes I too love to discuss book and marvel at how we can have different opinion about the same book. Because reading is very personal!

  14. I was so looking forward to this book and I love the story and characters this author creates but I can’t emotionally stand sharing or menages. Like at all. Ugh. Thank you so much for your review and I’ll be counting down till her next book release!

      1. I don’t know if I’ll try that particular book but I did take a look at some of that author’s other books and they some of them sound really good so I might try SOMETHING by her.

  15. Definitely not my cup of tea. As you would guess, but am applauding your post and sharing your thoughts, I think we have to say why we didn’t like a book, more so when we’re DNF it. It’s important to understand how we all love different genre, styles, and authors, and you do it respectfully. Bravo!

    1. Thank you so much Alexandra! You have no idea how I need to hear this as I seem to have unintentionally hurt two fans of Penelope Douglas on Facebook and they have been very …vocal! So it’s nice to hear that I did something right here 😉 Pfew! Social media ask for a tough skin!