Book: That Potent Alchemy (Treading the Boards #3) by Tess Bowery

Genre: MF Historical Romance (LGBTQIA), explicit

Title: That Potent Alchemy

Author: Tess Bowery

Release Date: 4 October 2016

This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Is his love her safe place to land…or just smoke and mirrors?

Grace Owens danced her feet bloody to become the finest en pointe prodigy of her generation, but the only accolade she longed for—her father’s approval—never came. Finally, broken and defeated, she cut ties and fled to London to live life on her own terms.

Now, after four years as an actress in London’s smaller theatres, a last-minute production change lands her right where she never wanted to be again. Front and center in the ballet—and back in toe shoes.

From his perch on the catwalks, machinist and stagecraft illusionist Isaac Caird can’t take his eyes off Grace. A woman who wears men’s clothing, but not as a disguise. An exquisite beauty who doesn’t keep a lover. A skilled dancer who clearly hates every pirouette.

The perfect lines of her delicate body inspire him to create a new illusion—with her as the centerpiece—that will guarantee sold-out shows. Maybe even attract a royal’s patronage. But first he has to get her to look at him. And convince her the danger is minimal—especially within the circle of his arms.

What I Liked:

I can honestly say that I’ve never read a romance novel quite like this one.  On Netgalley, this book is categorized as LGBTQIA, so I was surprised when I read the summary and saw that it featured an M/F romance.  There’s a bit of a twist, however.  Grace is gender-fluid, and sometimes she feels more masculine than feminine, wears pants instead of skirts, and likes to take the lead during sex.  I am absolutely thrilled to find a romance featuring a gender-fluid character, especially in a historical setting.  AND this book is a Regency romance featuring people of color!  This book is basically a rare and beautiful unicorn!

The sex in this book is super hot.  I like the tension and chemistry between the characters, and that they don’t have insta-love or fall into bed together right away.  Also, pegging!  It’s was hot and amazing and really, pegging needs to be included in more romance novels.

What I Didn’t:

I wish that Grace’s gender-fluidity was explored a little bit more.  I understand that there was not a lot of understanding of non-traditional genders or sexualities during this time period, but it would have been nice to see a little bit deeper into Graces mind and to see bit more of her masculine side.  Also, The lack of communication/misunderstanding between Grace and Isaac was a bit frustrating.  I understand where both of them were coming from, but my goodness, talk to each other!!!


I absolutely flew through this book.  I had no idea what to expect when I started, but I quickly fell in love with this Regency era that the author is focusing on.  Normally, Regency romances focus on the ton.  I liked seeing a side of the time period that is normally pushed aside.  It was refreshing to see the focus shifted to working class people.  Not only that, but the inclusion of people of color and LGBT people was amazing.  I really enjoyed this book.  I’m definitely planning to go back and read books 1 and 2 in this series, and I hope to see more books from this author in the future!

My Rating: 4/5

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