01/18/2006 AT 3:00 PM ET
Only a year ago Andie MacDowell seemed resigned to being a single mother, but now the actress is preparing to walk down the aisle with her new fiancé, businessman Kevin Geagan.
As a mom to three kids, last year McDowell was content to stand on the sidelines solo as she cheered on her children at basketball, equestrian and dance competitions. “It s work to have a relationship,” she told InStyle. “And right now I just want to focus on my kids.”
Still, when a friend introduced her to Geagan, a businessman who lives in MacDowell’s Asheville, N.C., community, the actress agreed – and within months was sending a decidedly different message.
“She called me around Christmas,” MacDowell s father, Marion, tells PEOPLE, “and said, ‘Dad, I’m in love.’”
Soon after that declaration, MacDowell, 47, and Geagan, 40, were celebrating their engagement.
“They re fabulous together, says MacDowell’s older sister Julia. “They are both very family-oriented. They both like the outdoors, and they’re both into community work.”
Another thing they have in common: parenthood. Geagan has three daughters, while MacDowell is mom to Justin, 19, Rainey, 16, and Sarah Margaret, 11, by her first husband, model-turned-contractor Paul Qualley, to whom she was married for 13 years before their 1999 split.
In October 2004 MacDowell’s second marriage, to former high school classmate Rhett Hartzog, also ended.
But for MacDowell, who has been filming a new movie, Funny Farm, in London, there s at least one compelling sign that this marriage (no wedding date has been set) might be one for the ages. “All the kids get along really great,” says Julia. “They’re all very happy together.”