It's apparently not enough that George Clooney's newly minted fiancée, Amal Alamuddin, is a brilliant and respected British lawyer with movie star looks, an Oxford education and fluency in three languages. At least according to one tabloid, which believes that the woman who was recently voted London's "hottest barrister" likely dusted off a copy of "The Rules" to land the once confirmed bachelor in record time.
The London Daily Mail claims Alamuddin, 36, played very "hard to get" in order to "tame" the Oscar-winning two-time Sexiest Man Alive, 52.
"Clooney asked her out for dinner and she put him off twice, saying she was too busy, before accepting the third time," alleges a source. "She was operating on the lines of 'treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen' and clearly it worked. Clooney was beguiled by her and she had the upper hand."
(Or, you know, maybe she was actually busy.)
Anyhoo, says the insider, "What he likes about her is that she treats him normally. He's so used to being fawned over that it's refreshing for him. And of course she is a brilliant human rights lawyer, but quite an operator too, you might say. She has met a whole bunch of A-listers through him and is seemingly quite cool about it, though you suspect she's loving it."
Something else she's likely loving: the ring that Clooney slipped on her finger, which they were reportedly showing off at various Los Angeles restaurants last week. Lainey Gossip says it's a "huge," emerald-cut sparkler, easily into the double digits, carat-wise. It features a single stone with a delicate platinum band but is "tasteful" despite its knuckle-buckling size.
Meanwhile, the betrothal news became official on Monday, with George's mom telling the Daily Mail, "You can say I'm extremely happy. Amal's a lovely girl. ... We weren't at all surprised when they told us they were engaged, and we couldn't be happier for them. On an intellectual level, they are equals. That is very important to him. Amal's world couldn't be more different from the Hollywood lifestyle."
What's more, says Mrs. Clooney, she's nothing like his previous arm candy: "Heavens, no! She's a lawyer, she is brilliant, she is a very bright woman and at the very top of her career."
Concurs George's dad, Nick Clooney, "It's true, and we're thrilled. We think Amal is a wonderful girl, and it's wonderful news. We think it will be a great marriage."
Alamuddin's law firm also issued a statement, enthusing, "The barristers and staff of Doughty Street Chambers offer their best wishes and congratulations to Ms. Amal Alamuddin, a member of Chambers, and Mr. George Clooney on their engagement to be married."
Adds the head of the firm, "She brings a bright light to everything she is involved in, and I am so delighted at her happy news."
Clooney was first linked to Alamuddin in October, when they were snapped out on a dinner date in London. At the time, his rep dismissed the dating reports, insisting they were "just friends" working together on a surveillance satellite program over Syria, a nice change from the megastar's usual female company of starlets, Italian models and cocktail waitresses.
From there, she joined him for the holidays in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with his pals, Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford, and cozied up with him at a Feb. 18 screening of "Monuments Men" at the White House.
In March, they solidified their romance by seemingly agreeing to be photographed on safari in Tanzania, a trip that also included a stop in the Seychelles. Soon, George and Amal were spied hanging with his famous friends in New York and Los Angeles.
Alamuddin, who received a law degree from New York University and previously clerked for current Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, advised Kofi Annan on Syria and represented former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko before the European Court of Human Rights, a cause Clooney has publicly supported (again, a nice change from his usual routine of bringing a supportive, statuesque but mostly silent date to his Hollywood events).
They even share a parental connection: Amal's mother, Baria Alamuddin, is an award-winning journalist and TV news analyst specializing in the Middle East; George's father is a retired TV newsman.
"George and Amal are trying to keep things very low-key, but they also aren't really trying to hide this, it doesn't seem," a source tells People of the engagement. "I think it's like they want the people they love to know that this is real, that they plan on being together forever."