updated 10/05/2011 AT 8:40 AM ET
•originally published 10/05/2011 AT 7:30 AM ET
The Queen of Nice is back – and happier than ever.
“I did not expect it when I met her at Starbucks,” O’Donnell, 49, tells PEOPLE of falling for I.T. headhunter Michelle Rounds, 40, whom she began dating a few months ago.
“She didn’t look like any lesbian I’d ever met,” says the talk show host. “But it’s fun and very exciting.”