It’s no secret that I adore Anna Zabo and her fantastic Takeover series. The third book in that series, Due Diligence, is out now… and it’s smoking hot! Second chances, past misunderstandings, and businessmen in suits? Yeah, it’s all that, plus two geeky men who use a D20 for… well, let’s just say it’s NSFW, alright?
Anna has joined us on the blog today, and we have some fantastic things ahead. You can get a glimpse into the book with an excerpt, check out a super fun scavenger-hunt interview with Anna, and there are two– you read that right, two giveaways for you to enter!
So what are you waiting for?
Due Diligence, by Anna Zabo
Series: Takeover, Book 3 (Stand-alone)
Publisher: Intermix (Berkely/NAL)
Release Date: June 21, 2016
After Fazil Kurt breaks up with his girlfriend, a business trip to Seattle offers some much-needed time away. Sent by S.R. Anderson Consulting, Fazil is there to help audit Singularity Storage, a company they are trying to save. His first discovery is intriguing to say the least: One of Singularity’s engineers is Todd Douglas, Fazil’s first love.
He knows better than to get personally involved on a job like this. Back in high school, Todd broke Fazil’s heart more times than he could count, but both men have grown so much since then—and Fazil never could say no to Todd…
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Stephen slid a piece of paper across the table to him. “Here’s a list of the engineers you’ll be working with.”
He picked it up and scanned the sheet until his brain rammed up against a single familiar name: Todd Douglas.
Todd. Broad, tall, blue-eyed. Memories of his old leather jacket and cologne and that beat-up junker he’d driven to high school all those years ago, the one they’d made out in a million times. He’d given his first blow job in Todd’s car. Received his first, too.
He set the page down on the table because it was shaking too much in his hand. “Thanks.” No way it could be the same guy. Todd hadn’t gone to college. He’d planned to take over his old man’s garage in Warminster, PA. Seattle and computer engineer didn’t jive with the Todd Douglas he’d known all those years ago. A common enough name, but the memories set his skin on fire and for a moment he hoped it was his Todd.
“Here’s the team now,” Stephen said.
Men and women filed into the conference room, eyeing both him and Eli warily, except for the last man. He locked gazes with Fazil and stopped.
Holy shit. Same blue eyes, same dark hair, but the roundness of seventeen had given way to the angles, lines, and hardness of a man in his prime. Todd still looked like he belonged in a mechanic’s shop, except for the decidedly geeky t-shirt that read There’s no place like 127.0.0.1 and clung to his chest in sinful ways. God, to run his hands down the length of that body.
Eli’s chair squeaked as it rotated and Fazil peered at his laptop. The presentation he had to give in a few seconds might as well have been in a language he didn’t read. Shit. Get it together.
Thankfully, Todd sat as far from Fazil as he could in the suddenly way-too-small conference room. Todd was an engineer? No way in hell. He’d barely passed math class until Fazil had tutored him. Then again, after that, he’d gotten straight As. He met Todd’s stare a second time and he couldn’t tell if Todd wanted to fuck him or kill him.
Guess some things never changed. He shivered.
Instead of doing a regular text interview, I want to try something different. So I’m sending Anna Zabo on a scavenger hunt of sorts… I’ll give her a prompt, quote, or ask a question, and she’ll respond with whatever first comes to mind– a picture, a video, etc.
So, we’ll start with a fun one. Mechanics. (Todd, one of the main characters, used to be a mechanic.)
Part of that goes back to why Todd is named Todd (which I blogged about). I wanted something particularly un-Todd-like for a background. Something rougher than Fazil’s childhood (which was upper middle class). So having Todd be the son of a mechanic and growing up working with cars seemed the perfect choice. Also gave him that bad-boy appeal in high school–and he had a car, which not everyone did.
Also, sexy mechanics.
While Todd’s not based on Chris Evans, this is the aesthetic I was thinking about:
Show us your mental picture of Fazil?
It’s a photo of Engin Akyürek, who is a Turkish actor.
Okay, he’s super hot. Super hot. 😀
What is the geekiest thing you own that Todd and/or Fazil would also own?
Well, I co-own an Atari 2600 with my brother…but I think that’s actually too old for Todd or Fazil to own. I do have a Sega Genesis collecting dust, and I bet one of them does, too. I mean, Todd has the D&D books. I have some GURPs books. Oh! I have a model of Minas Tirith! Fazil would totally have one of those. And the ever-present jar of too many dice.
While Fazil and Todd are (*cough*) reuniting, Eli is off having his own fun. What’s happening while he’s horseback riding?
Ah, Eli. 🙂 Well, that’s actually a slight Easter egg I slipped in, which I’m curious if anyone actually figures out (because it’s somewhat obscure and you have to know me and my favorite books to figure it out). But basically, he’s hanging out with some friends he met during his honeymoon with Justin…and learning to ride a horse. He… wanted to be able to have the freedom of speed without the lurking mental issues. He’s fine with driving, but he’s also super cautious. Eli wants to let go of some of that, and learning to ride gives him the opportunity to do so.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what were a few songs from your Due Diligence playlist.
I don’t actually listen to music. I wish I could, but the words come out my fingers, which… makes things hard! I sometimes think about what songs would work for the characters though.
I totally would love someone else to come up with a playlist for my books, so you know, if anyone wants to, I’d be in heaven.
So this is kind of turned into a walk through of Anna’s iTunes.
- Home by Erasure: There’s both a bittersweetness and a looking forwardness to this song. Todd’s never going home, but he ends up making a new one.
- Love and Anger by Kate Bush: This just kind of sums up the whole relationship. “We can be like two strings beating, speaking in sympathy” (And it’s Kate Bush. She’s kind of amazing.)
- Waiting Days by Midge Ure: I think this one, for me, is about not discounting the pain or the waiting or the past. It’s a part of who we are. There’s a lot of waiting and mistakes in both Fazil and Todd’s past. They can’t go back and change it, but they can move forward.
- The Story by Thirty Seconds to Mars: This is so very Fazil. A reflection of the past and a promise for the future.
- Paralyzer by Finger Eleven: For the spark that is between them.
- Captain by the Dave Matthews Band: Simply for the line “Curious hands and fingertips”.
- Vereme by Tarken: This is mostly because staring at Tarken for five minutes is never wasted, and you get an idea of what Turkish sounds like. It’s a fairly unique language.
I’m also going to throw in The Stars We Are by Marc Almond, both the song and the album. I picked up the album up my senior year of high school and bonded with my college roommate over it.
It was, in many ways, the soundtrack of those liminal years for me and it’s those feelings and emotions from that time that informed Fazil and Todd’s background. It’s interesting listening to it years later. It carries the weight of that past, but I can also listen and understand with who I am now. And while I am not my characters (by far), there’s a lot of me in my characters, so you can see little pieces of them here.
The second song of the album, These My Dreams Are Yours, is totally an Eli song, for instance. I also came across another song that was very much an Eli song from when I was writing Just Business: Live by Ultravox
Your favorite Turkish food!
Oh man. But there are so many…. One of my favorites is İmam Bayıldı, which Todd and Fazil eat at the Turkish place Todd takes Fazil to for their first “let’s talk about the past…but not really ‘cause we’re dorks” talk. It means “The Imam fainted,” by the way. It’s a classic meze or appetizer and is vegetarian. It’s not that difficult to make, either. There’s a lovely recipe here.
What was the first image or scene you had in your head when you decided to write Due Diligence?
Um. Todd and Fazil having sex. What can I say? They tend to communicate the best in bed. And I had this very emotional scene in my head of both of them with their hearts torn apart, and Fazil asking Todd to fuck him like he cares and Todd’s heart breaking because he does care and has always cared. That moment ended up being later in the book than I thought, and in the middle of another scene–where they’re roll-playing some rough sex. The line still cracks Todd apart because there hasn’t been a time since he met Fazil that he hasn’t cared for him.
Close seconds for timing are the scene in the bar where Todd stuffs 40 bucks in Fazil’s pocket and Fazil’s conversation about being bisexual with Eli. (Poor Eli. Foot in mouth.)
The reason Fazil ended up with his own story is because of that throw-away line in Just Business where Eli’s thinking about Justin’s ability to get along with the office. Specifically the line: Perhaps the pretty face helped, even with straight-as-sin Fazil. And in my head, Fazil gave Eli the finger and said “I’m not straight, you fuck.” and I kind of knew I’d have to write his story then.
I’ve been waiting for this one… show us a picture of the Dragon Dong?
So there’s a place called Bad Dragon (https://bad-dragon.com/) which has dildos. Dragon dildos. Other fantasy critter dildos. I can’t even remember how I ran across the site… probably twitter or tumblr or something, ‘cause… well. You know. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors, and you’ll also find Mr. Alien Tentacle there, too. They were probably playing with something like this: http://bad-dragon.com/products/flint But I figure people can use their imagination…
Did I mention that there are two giveaways for you to enter?
The first is exclusive to Just Love Romance: we’re giving away physical copies of the audiobooks for Takeover and Just Business! (International winners will get digital copies instead.)
Anna also has an amazing prize-pack that she’s giving away, filled with tons of geeky stuff… plus a VERY VERY RARE paperback copy of Just Business.