Author: Posy Roberts
Publisher: Labyrinth Bound Press
Length: 247 Pages
At a Glance: I really enjoyed the second story in this series, and seeing Jude and Hudson come such a long way as a couple.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Is five thousand miles far enough to say I love you?
Hudson Oliva loves stability. He was a throwaway teen before finding Kaleidoscope Gardens but has since thrived at the commune. When Jude Garrity moves in, life gets even better, but Hudson still craves more. He knows he has to be satisfied with their exclusive status being temporary and that Jude will eventually navigate his full sexual awakening with their other housemates.
Hudson has a journey of his own to make. It might only require going home to settle his grandmother’s estate, but he plans to use his time away to figure out how to temper his feelings for Jude and bury his jealousy once and for all. But when Jude joins him on his trip, Hudson falls even deeper in love, especially after Jude stands by his side when he finally confronts his mother for rejecting him.
However, it’s not all hearts and flowers while they travel. They’re over two thousand miles from home when Hudson learns a ruthless corporate farm threatens the commune they both love. In order to save their way of life, Hudson must ask his mother for help. And if he wants a chance at a stable future with Jude, he has to tell him the truth about his feelings, no matter if it ruins the harmony he’s tried so hard to preserve.
Review: Series note: This is the second book in the Naked Organics series. I don’t recommend reading this without reading Farm Fresh first, as there are too many complex relationships and histories covered in the first book that are meaningful to this story.
Picked Fresh picks up where Farm Fresh left Off. Jude and Hudson have decided that they need to be exclusive for a while to figure out their relationship. Hudson has a lot of guilt about this that he’s trying to work through, but his jealousy over Jude has resulted in hurt on both sides, and they agree to go this way for bit. Hudson has also made the decision that he has to see his mother and fulfill the terms of his grandmother’s will. He remembers his grandmother fondly—he spent several summers at her horse farm in Kentucky. He’s not sure what will transpire when seeing his mother after more than a decade, but it’s something he needs to get closure on. He’s set to take the camper and go, but Jude is just as determined to join him.
They leave Oregon, but soon after their start, there is a call from Jude’s brother. They need to make a detour to Jude’s family farm in Washington to try to make sure that his younger siblings are removed from the family farm and placed with an older brother and his wife. We finally learn the reason that Jude is so protective of his younger brother, and why he’s still so worried about what could happen to his siblings. Luckily, Jude and Hudson are there to help with the bureaucracy and help the younger kids pack and get out of the house. Jude opens up more to Hudson about what happened to him and why he has had so many issues with his sexuality.
Once the issues with Jude’s family are resolved, they get back underway on their trip to Kentucky. The closer they get, the more the tension in Hudson escalates. He remembers his awful flight from his family home and what he had to do to get to Oregon in the first place. Jude does his best to try to calm and soothe him. Jude also is becoming more open and brave about his sexual desires, and how he thinks he can help Hudson as well. Charlie and Leo are very helpful during their calls home.
But, of course, there are other impending disaster that come up, specifically around the farm and the obnoxious neighbor who has been nothing but a thorn in their side. If Ray gets his way, the entire community will be threatened and endangered. Hudson is distraught about the possibility of losing the only stable home he’s known. And he still has to face his mother, which he’s not looking forward to either.
When the guys arrive at the farm, they are both rather amazed by the warm welcome they receive from Hudson’s mother. However, they can see that things are not going well at the farm. His mother has had to let go all the help, and she can’t really keep up with all the work that is required. She’s down to two horses and she needs a lot of help. Of course, Jude and Hudson volunteer to assist while there, but the settlement of the estate and their quick return to Oregon is going be tough to negotiate.
Hudson feels that he has to confront his mother about what he went through at the conversion camp, and his flight from their home when he was eighteen, and the complete lack of contact or seeming care of his parents in the intervening years. She tries to rationalize everything, but Hudson is angry and hurt. Jude is somehow able to speak with her, much to his own amazement, and in the end, things work out better than expected.
The return trip to Oregon is stressful because of the issues going on back at the commune. Both guys are worried that they are not going to be able to get things done in time, but they are racing to save their way of life. Leo and Charlie are stressed but doing their best to hold it all together. And there are a few other interesting surprises along the way.
All in all, I enjoyed this second story with this group, although there were some parts in the middle that dragged a little for me. Personally, I have a hard time with parents who show such wretched disregard for their children, like both Jude’s and Hudson’s families do in this series, so that part of the story is always hard for me to read. I just don’t get it, but I know it happens far too often as evidenced by the numbers of homeless LGBT youth. It was interesting to see how the author presented Hudson’s relationship with his mother, and how she tried to explain her behavior. I also really liked the way Jude was able to process his family dynamic with the help of his friends and, most importantly, the right therapist. He was able to make such great strides in his personal growth and his relationship with Hudson. The progression of their relationship was so lovely to watch as they were able to leave their past family histories behind them. They really have come such a long way as a couple. I don’t know what the plans are from the author, but it would be nice to visit them again in the future.
You can buy Picked Fresh here: