This Book Wasn't For Me and That's Okay | Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas

8:00 AM

After years of hearing nothing but great things about Penelope Douglas' brand of steamy romances, I finally icked up one. Picked. Well, actually, also ick. Credence was kind of like a mix of contemporary NA romances with V.C. Andrews and... it did not work. (For me.) 


by Penelope Douglas 

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 by Penelope Douglas
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Well, it's safe to say that my first experience with Penelope Douglas was a miss. I kind of regret picking Credence as the first, to be honest. There are good-bad books and then there's Credence. Which was this cluttered bit of taboo heat and a dash of highly charged, and at times beyond disturbing, romanticized abuse. 

Admittedly, I can see why Douglas' writing is so popular. She packs a serious punch with her writing--which is enticing even in its weakened plot point. Credence showcases her chops to get down and dirty in more than one way; while it didn't work for me, and, bluntly, grossed me out, I can see why there's a certain draw to her prose. Credence, if anything, proves to be a great and smutty read at its core, but that's really all it has going for it. 

In a way, I feel like the only way to describe this was that it had a spark of lust and the writing was solid but everything got too tangled. Each tangle made the experience of Credence feel tense and weird. It was like reading the script to a badly written porno (minus the bad writing because, again, Douglas has a solid prose to her work) or fanfiction to a V.C. Andrews novel. 

My biggest issue, however, lay in the ways that everything was portrayed. Forbidden romances aren't exactly uncommon and when done right, they are great. Explorations and differences in portraying this, and taboo topics, can also be indulgent when done right--so long as they aren't romanticized. In the context of Credence, this was a definite "romance" and because of that I couldn't look past the twisted, bizarre and unfortunate elements. 

Credence features several, um, tropes that won't be for everybody. (Again, the ways in which each were developed were also not for me.) The central romances were a bit of a clusterf*ck of thing: a massive age gap, step-relatives, dubious consent, etc. There were so many "Wait, what?" problematic head-turn moments that made me flinch back in weirdness due to skin-crawling, uneasy and completely unhealthy traits.

Other, more mundane things to complain about: none of the characters were particularly memorable for me. Even the ones that I loved or loathed felt completely forgettable for me. Which is what it is, but definitely contributed to my lack of interest in it at the end of the day. The very second I finished Credence I found myself sighing in relief.  

Similar to the After series, it was kind of like Credence was a train-wreck I couldn't look away from. And ultimately, it wasn't the book for me.

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