The Julia Hawke Series by Natasha West is a fascinating series. Each book in the trilogy is so different from the one before and yet reading them all is a wholly satisfying journey.

I am going to start with the first book, Hawke’s Prey and not go into too much detail with books two and three but do read them all.

Julia Hawke is a writing professor who loves to play at seducing one of her first year students. It is the new year and she is looking for her next sexual conquest when she meets small-town girl Penny Stone.

Penny is a plain, unassuming mousey girl and not at all who Julia normally goes for. Julia prefers sexually experienced women who will make the first move and are happy that they got some illicit encounters from their university writing program. She has strict rules to her seduction game like she never picks a virgin or anyone who will become too deeply attached. Penny is obviously out of the question.

And yet, there is something about the unassuming woman that draws Julia to her. As Julia fights her desires we get to know Penny better.

Penny is at university to learn business so that she can take over her family’s store. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend and they have a pact not to get physically intimate until they are married.

She took writing as a fun subject and had no idea that she would not only love the class but be keen on making her professor proud.

When Penny opens up on a writing assignment and Julia reads the piece it forever changes the dynamic between the women. But the gulf between them is wide and they can’t possibly be falling for one another, can they? Add in some unexpected twists and you have a book that will have you flipping the pages as you read well into the night.

I Love That I Hated Julia Hawke (at first)

West is a genius at her character work. I absolutely couldn’t stand Julia Hawke when I first started reading. I was horrified with her predatory behaviour and couldn’t believe what she was thinking. But as the book progressed I learnt more about her and changed my mind about wanting to drop her off a cliff.

I still found her initial behaviour appalling but the way she developed over the book made me really like her as a character.

She is an excellent example of why I absolutely LOVE to read Natasha West’s books. The characters are complex and layered, the story is never as simple as it seems and the feeling of two people meant to be together is perfect.

Penny starts off as this one dimensional bookish mouse and turns into a vibrant young woman who goes on an amazing journey to find herself.

Keeping Me Guessing

The book is easy to read and yet there were moments when I stopped and appreciated the shear genius of the situation that the characters were in, the raw feelings West brought out in me and the heat between the women. Does anyone have a fan handy?

Never at any point in the book did I feel like I knew that something was going to happen or that the story was predictable.

My Favourite Things

Each book was a different journey that the characters go on. I love how both Julia and Penny grow so much across the books that you wouldn’t recognise them as the same person at the start and end.

I adore the heat between these two. They practically gave me static electricity as I paged through the book.

The writing of these books is easy to read and yet wholly satisfying for folks who enjoy well worded stories.

Heads Up

Be prepared for the predatory behaviour at the beginning of book 1 and some questionable choices by Hawke as the series progresses. But, if you are willing to go on the journey and trust that West will take you all the way to the other side when you want to see them together and happy forever then this is a great series for you.

This is also some of West’s earlier work and so there are some typos. But if you go in knowing there are missing commas etc, then just sit back and enjoy the passion because there is a boatload of that.

Why You Should Buy It

There is so much complexity in the characters depicted in this box set that I lack the language to truly express how moved I was.

The first book was my favourite but I really enjoyed seeing them through the entire journey.

The relationship between the two main characters was gorgeous and lustful and longing but if you don’t get the box set you miss out on the happy ever after because it takes all three books to get there.

Excerpt from Book 1 of The Julia Hawke Series by Natasha West

sheena's favouriteAs I dismissed the class, I subtly watch Denim Shorts get up and collect her things and I catch her eye. It’s brief but I get the slightest hint that yes, she could be receptive. And with any luck, she’ll put up just enough of a fight to keep it interesting before she gives into her own desire. I watched her perky buttocks bounce across the room in the infamous shorts as I stood and collected my notes. Target acquired.

As I got up to leave, my path was suddenly blocked and I almost walked into my interceptor.

‘Miss Hawke?’

An elfin, bespectacled girl with dark blonde hair pulled back into a tight ponytail was standing in front of me. She was dressed in a conservative cardigan and skirt, both in muted colours. She looked a little parochial. I could see that she was nervous to speak to me but something had pushed her to do it anyway.

‘I’m Penny Stone. I just wanted to tell you that I found your class really inspiring.’

‘Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading your work.’

That statement inspired a blush and I could see that the prospect of me reading her work had struck fear into her. But she was trying to push it down, trying to be confident. I wasn’t unsympathetic to a new writer’s nerves about having their work appraised by me. I could recall those times in my own life when I’d been in her shoes. She dipped her head, suddenly finding her shoes fascinating.

‘I’m not very good but I hope you’ll make me better.’

It wasn’t an unusual statement from a young writer. Sometimes they believed it and sometimes it was false modesty. If it was false modesty, then the writer in question usually found out later that there was actually some truth in their proclamations of lack of talent. It was the ones who really thought they weren’t any good that did the best work because they would push themselves, demand more from themselves, work harder. I examined the girl for pretension and I didn’t detect it in her. I laughed gently at her neurosis.

‘We’ll see about that, Penny.’

She looked up at me in surprise, and I guessed that people didn’t usually remember her name and certainly not so quickly. I couldn’t see why not. Now that I was really looking at her, there was something that drew you in, a certain intriguing quality behind the shyness. That apparent innocence might have hidden depths, the kind that made for interesting work. I decided to keep a special eye on her.

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Series

Julia Hawke Series

Hawke’s Prey

Hawke’s Game

Hawke’s Flight

Bits and Bobs

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Note: I bought The Julia Hawke Series by Natasha West. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

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Sheena is the founder of The Lesbian Review.

She discovered lesbian fiction when she was 19. Radclyffe and Karin Kallmaker soon became favourite authors and she spent a large part of her hard earned income on shipping books from Amazon.com to her home in South Africa.

Over the years she became frustrated with purchasing mediocre lesbian fiction feeling like it was a waste of her money and time. And so she decided to share only the best books and movies with lesbians who are looking for only the best. And so, The Lesbian Review was born