Men I Have Loved is a series of interviews with male characters I’ve adored in today’s fiction. I am so pleased to bring you my third interview in the series. Not only is Conrad Adams handsome and sexy, but he’s also rich and powerful, and he’s used to getting what he wants. But his past hasn’t always been pure. Come, meet the man behind R.K Ryde’s Stella Series.

NLK: You pursued Stella, what first attracted you to her?

CA: It was her striking red hair and elegant figure that first caught my attention. I remember the day well. It was a regular morning in the backseat of my Mercedes, being driven into work, and for some reason – a reason I still cannot explain, I looked up from my phone to stare out the window. It was then I saw her. She was wearing a stylish black dress, had a coffee in her hand and was peering into Tiffany and Co’s windows. It was the classic scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I was intrigued.

After finding out she was an interior designer, I invited her to redesign my office in a guise to meet her in person. It’s then that I fell in love with her. She was sweet and beautiful. Innocent and kind, and completely detached from my world. She was different to every other woman I’d met.

NLK: How far would you go for love?

CA: If you strip everything away – money, fame, status, power, material possessions – everything – what are you left with? Love. It’s the only thing that remains. So in answer to your question, I would give up everything for true love. It’s the only thing worth fighting for.

NLK: Do you believe in soulmates?

CA: I do now! Stella is my answer from Ketchup. I never would have believed it was possible, but everything I asked for in a woman, I have been given in Stella. She is my perfect match. My soulmate, if you will.

NLK: Business or pleasure?

CA: Pleasure always. Business has been thrust upon me. I was born into it. It’s been expected of me. But pleasure – well, that has always come easily. A little too easily in my younger years, which earned me much heartache and was the source of great angst for my parents and grandparents.

NLK: What’s your biggest achievement to date?

CA: I’d love to say it was the massive casino I opened in Sydney, but I’d be lying. My biggest achievement is making the woman of my dreams happy.

An excerpt from The Stella Series:

The Mercedes pulls up outside my duplex. I turn to Conrad, preparing to say goodnight.

“I’ll walk you to your door,” he says emphatically, exiting the car and holding his hand out to me.

“There’s no need, I’ll be fine,” I protest, reluctantly taking his hand and allowing him to help me from the vehicle.

I really need this evening to be over. I want to get inside the refuge of my own home and let this night go. The trip home in the confines of the car was hard enough. I used the time to try and convince myself that I’m not attracted to him, to remind myself he’s a player – that he’s a worldly man.

He gives me an I’m-not-budging-on-this look, tightening his grip on my hand.

“Okay.” I relent on a heavy exhale, suspecting it’s probably just his well-entrenched manners: pulling out chairs, opening car doors, walking to the door…

Still with a firm grip on my hand, Conrad leads me though the gate and up the stairs, triggering the sensor light as we step onto the porch.

“Thank you for a lovely evening,” I say with finality, indicating the night is over. There will be no invitation inside, no nightcap, no kiss goodnight. I fumble with my clutch, eager to retrieve my key.

“Stella,” he breathes, stepping closer, filling the void between us.

His voice is deep and grainy, compelling me to look up at him. My heart races. His eyes are large and dark, exploring mine. My stomach clenches and the energy between us shifts, sexual electricity crackling around us. I step back, struggling with the clasp on my purse, my hands shaky. I need to find my key. Now.

His arm shoots out, catching me around the waist, halting my retreat. I suck in a startled breath, acutely aware of the heat radiating off his hard body, his cologne and masculine scent filling my nostrils. It’s too much. My pulse leaps and I sway on my heels, supported only by his strong arm securing me.

He lowers his face toward mine. “I’m going to kiss you,” he whispers thickly, his breath caressing my cheek, his lips close to mine.

My eyes flutter closed. I should say, “No…”

“Yes,” I breathe. The word tumbles from my mouth involuntarily, sounding nothing like my own.

Time slows, the moment lasts forever. His free hand slides into my hair, his strong fingers tenderly cup the back of my head. A quiver of desire mixed with dread shoots down my coiled nerves and before I can change my mind, he presses his lips against mine.

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Stella’s Awakening Stella’s Emancipation