AS the winner of Love Island, Amber Davies made no secret of her desperate desire for romance.
The talented singer and actress found stardom three years ago when she stormed to victory alongside Kem Cetinay, as millions were glued to every graphic detail of their blossoming relationship.
But after a messy break-up and rumoured flings with former One Direction singer Liam Payne and Towie’s Pete Wicks, she took the advice of her superstar mentor Dolly Parton, who urged Amber to forget about men while she trod the boards in 9 To 5: The Musical in London’s West End.
Amber, 24, had resigned herself to long-term singledom . . . until now.
Last week she surprised fans by posting a loved-up snap with her new boyfriend, operations manager Nick Kyriacou, 28, and today she tells The Sun she has finally found “The One”, after her TV search for a boyfriend ended in disaster.
She says: “I know it’s such a cliche but it only happened when I stopped looking for love.
“I was so set on being a career woman and not having a boyfriend that one fell in my lap — and now I can’t let him go.
“He’s having to slow me down. Within a month of dating, I had my own drawer at his house.
“I know I’m being too eager — we still haven’t had our first row — but I can’t wait for us to be together.
“I wasn’t planning on meeting anyone but we got introduced through friends and he is so different.
“The pandemic has made me realise you can’t plan how everything is going to go.”
Before appearing on Love Island, Amber — who has a musical theatre diploma — was working as a dancer at London’s circus-themed club night Cirque Le Soir.
It was a dream come true when she landed the role of Judy Bernly in Dolly Parton-penned show 9 To 5, alongside Louise Redknapp as Violet Newstead and Brian Conley as Franklin Hart Jnr.
She made her West End debut in January of last year, amazing fans with her pitch-perfect singing, before bidding farewell to the show in November.
Amber had been set to star this year in the cheerleading musical Bring It On, playing Campbell along-side former Olympic gymnast Louis Smith as Cameron, only for the production to be postponed until 2021 owing to the pandemic closing theatres across the country.
She says: “Lockdown has been a nightmare for my career as a performer.
“I should be on stage at the moment but who knows when theatres will reopen?”
But she says: “Meeting Nick has turned this year around for me. Now I live for the here and now.
"I was all about my career, I didn’t want a relationship, but now I have realised that you can have both.
“I would never have taken it public if I didn’t know he is The One.”
Amber had feared that her on-screen romp with Kem, now 24, in the Love Island villa could maybe discourage her new boyfriend’s family from liking her.
Instead, Nick’s mum and sister, who were fans of the ITV2 reality show, embraced Amber with open arms.
That welcome, Amber says, came as “a massive relief” to her.
She says: “I haven’t had a real relationship since Kem, which obviously didn’t work out after Love Island.
"I have been by myself for three and a half years, worked by myself and been independent. I didn’t need a man.
“But then Nick came along and I thought, ‘No, I’m not letting him go’.
“I’ve been so worried about relationships, questioning whether a man’s family would accept my background after Love Island.But Nick’s family are amazing.
“People look down on reality TV. My love life was at the centre of it all and people saw a lot.
"I was anxious about whether Nick’s family would respect me but they have been so understanding and warm.
“Now I regularly spend time with his mum and sister.”
Amber adds: “Nick is the polar opposite to me. If I get my camera out to take a picture, he shies away, he runs off.
“It’s reassuring because he’s not fame-hungry at all.
“In the past, I’ve dated guys but not really known what their intention was. You know, ‘Does he want to be in the papers?’”
Nick had his first taste of the spotlight when he was pictured on a night out with Amber in London last weekend, to celebrate her 24th birthday, and it prompted ribbing from his friends.
But Amber reckons their newfound freedom has proved a huge relief after months of living “a kind of double life”.
She says: “I had gone quiet because I was building this gorgeous relationship with Nick.
“But I thought, ‘I have always been honest with the people who follow me’. I wanted people to know we were dating.
“I didn’t want us to get pictured together and for it to come out that way.
"I didn’t want us not to be able to hold hands in public.
“I wanted to make it public and have control of it, and I have seen so much lovely support from people.
“I don’t really speak about my love life, and it’s been such a lovely reaction. People have been genuinely happy for me.”
Having to go through a high-profile split with Kem only a few months after leaving the Love Island villa had, in part, put Amber off trying to find love again.
She had feared being labelled a failure if there was another break-up. But Amber is now certain her relationship with Nick will go from strength to strength.
She says: “It’s the first time ever that I don’t have any fear in my head about this coming to an end any time soon. That’s why I felt so confident telling people.
“And even though I can’t wait to get back to work as soon as possible, I have to just enjoy the time we have together for what it is.
“I’m terrible for feeling as though I’m underachieving if I’m not doing new things.
"But next year I’m on the road for a long theatre tour, so right now I’m just relaxing, and it has been good for us.
"Normally I’d be doing eight shows a week, travelling a lot, but for now we can just enjoy each other.
“Nick’s been really good for me, and he’s helped me keep healthy too.
“For the first time ever I’ve ditched takeaways, because he knows how to cook. So I know what’s going into my body, and I feel so much better for it.
“It’s a massive lifestyle change but it’s keeping me in shape when I could have just got lazy in lockdown.
“I’ve even learned to cook myself — if I’ve slipped into one of his habits, it’s being healthy,
“And he doesn’t look bad for it, does he? He looks amazing, so hopefully he’s helping me do myself some good too.”
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