Title: Farm Fresh (Book #1 of Naked Organics)
Author: Posy Roberts
Publisher: Labyrinth Bound Press
Release Date: January 28th, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, MM Romance, Gay Fiction, with a splash of MMM+
Page Count: 202
Reviewed by: Lily G Blunt
Heat Level: 4 flame out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Getting down and dirty never felt as clean as it does at Kaleidoscope Gardens!
Jude Garrity visits the farmers market every Saturday. As an environmental engineering student, he’s curious about living off the grid and sustainable agriculture.
And one particular farmer.
Hudson Oliva has worked hard to support his commune, where queer people live without fear of harm or retribution. When Jude asks pointed questions about living there, Hudson realizes he needs to be honest about his home. Few people know what the farm is actually about, but Jude is insistent.
Jude moves to Kaleidoscope Gardens, however his sexual hang-ups make it hard to adjust. He’s an uptight virgin living among people who have sex freely and with multiple partners. When Jude finally loosens up, Hudson is flooded with emotions. Falling for Jude wasn’t part of Hudson’s life plan. But when vindictive rumors about the commune begin to spread, love might be all he has left.
A commune as defined in a dictionary is a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities. My only knowledge of one is a local religious commune with a bad reputation, so I was interested to read a story with a commune as its setting.
Posy takes this ideal of communal living and portrays a well-established GLBT community that has become a sanctuary for its inhabitants. It’s a safe place where same sex and poly relationships flourish. The members celebrate their sexuality by practising consensual sex out in the open, with plenty of hugging and kissing from everyone. “Our Utopia” as Leo (one of the founding members) describes it. It’s not an out-and-out orgy 24/7, but everyone is free to express their sexuality and nakedness without embarrassment or condemnation.
The purpose of the commune is not only about sex. It’s a farm, focusing on sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and conservation. The members grow crops to feed themselves, as well as to sell to make a living. And that’s how Jude meets Hudson at the local farmers market. Although still a virgin, Jude is fascinated by the idea of communal living and hopes it provides an opportunity to overcome his sexual hang-ups.
Jude is coming to the end of his environmental engineering degree and is eager to apply what he’s learned. He’s a problem-solver, a doer, and does his best to improve their facilities and save them money. He’s inquisitive, a trait his parents had tried to tamp down, and shows himself to be capable of taking charge of projects. Being able to apply his theoretical studies to the problems encountered by the commune helps boost his confidence and standing within the community.
Hudson shares a house with Leo and Charlie, and they regularly have sex together and separately. He loves them, but he’s not in love. The three men are in an open relationship and together they discover new pleasures and meet each other’s sexual needs. Jude moves in with them, but he takes time to adjust to the way of life.
Jude had suffered emotional torment and abuse at home from his supposedly Christian parents. They were no more than monsters because of the guilt and anguish they imposed on their children. Jude’s been seeking his first sexual experience since leaving home, but each time has backed down. He has a lot of unhealthy issues regarding sex to work through and hopes living in a sexually active commune can help him.
Jude’s initial reaction and reservations to the commune are understandable given his background and upbringing. He takes slow steps and moves forward with help from other members of the commune, especially Leo and Charlie. They encourage him to participate in the open communal lifestyle, even if he still isn’t ready to have penetrative sex. He sees and hears sex going on around him, within his house and within the community. He finds it harder to relax with Hudson than the other two men because Hudson means more to him. But Jude is scared to say how much he wants Hudson.
During the course of the story, Jude gradually overcomes the shame he associates with sex and masturbation. His parents had told him he’d burn in hell for sins of the flesh and that sex was solely for procreation. Memories of his father’s words continue to haunt him for many months. He eventually manages to separate himself from those teachings and the guilt, realizing he needs to partake or leave the commune. Through shared experiences with his housemates, his reserve gradually falls away.
Hudson has his own issues because a past lover deserted him. They surface again in his interaction with Jude and the new dynamic with his housemates. He fears being abandoned again. Hudson and Jude are attracted to each other, but things are often awkward between them and it takes time for them to sort out their various issues. They don’t really spend the time getting to know each other properly before problems set in and Hudson comes to feels he’s gotten in the way of Jude finding himself.
Throughout the story, Hudson yearns for Jude, but he holds back from telling Jude how he feels. He knows he has to be patient with Jude as he overcomes his fear of sex, but his feelings for Jude get in the way and their relationship falls by the wayside for a time. Hudson eventually admits he selfishly pushed Jude away because he felt Jude pushed him away first.
Although his motives are more clearly explained later, I became increasingly frustrated with Hudson’s behaviour. He acted like a spoilt child during much of the book, albeit overcome with jealousy, hurt and insecurity. His response to Jude blows hot and cold and his reactions are a bit of a roller coaster. Even after they finally make love for the first time, his response is bewildering. He realizes he’s not cared for Jude properly afterwards, but still does little to make amends. He doesn’t talk through the problems and becomes insular and cold. At the start of the story, he was warm and open, always with a smile, but he eventually makes Jude feel unwelcome and that results in Jude thinking he’s messed up the dynamics in their house.
Hudson craves love and ownership, and so finds it difficult when he has to share Jude with Leo and Charlie. He wants Jude to himself and this conflicts with the commune’s ideals. When he decides to woo him, he still holds back and their relationship stagnates. He fears Jude will shut him out and believes Leo and Charlie have also rejected him at one point. There’s tension and they end up avoiding each other for a time. Hudson withdraws from nearly everyone in the community, but he’s been sending out bad vibes for months. His reactions are confusing to Jude and to me as a reader at times.
Thankfully, Jude takes charge in the end and it’s exactly what Hudson needs. By this time, Jude is comfortable in his own skin and not embarrassed by his own nakedness.
There were several steamy sexy scenes involving two, three and foursome sex. Jude and Hudson’s scene in the greenhouse was smoking hot and just what they both needed.
Farm Fresh has a well-paced and balanced storyline, not focusing solely on sexual scenes, but the development of the commune and those within it. There’s conflict and angst, but it’s resolved positively. I particularly liked Leo and Charlie’s characters and their supporting roles in the story.
Although the first in a series of books, this story ends happily with no major cliffhanger, but has the potential to explore other characters and their relationships. I’m glad Hudson and Jude’s story finishes the way that it does. It suits their characters, with the two of them very much in love and supported by the others in the commune.
Overall, an enjoyable read in a unique setting, with different character dynamics compared to most m/m romance stories. Recommended if you accept or are willing to read non-traditional pairings and intimacy outside of a committed relationship.