Only last year Carrie Underwood admitted to being
"horrible around guys" – but that was then.
Now the country crooner, 24, seems to be finding her stride, with Gossip Girl hunk
"He's really cute," Underwood recently told PEOPLE of the 22-year-old Texas-born actor. "I've met him and he seems like a really nice guy. He's got cool hair, he's a nice height and he just has beautiful blue eyes."
The pair stopped by Manhattan's Marquee nightclub last Friday, then popped into Gramercy Park Hotel's hip Rose Bar on Saturday night.
"At one point, they were holding hands, off to the side of the table, like they didn't want people to see," says an observer.
Earlier this year, the American Idol
champ and Academy of Country Music
and Country Music Television Video Award
winner was linked to
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Underwood is also nominated for three CMA awards this year.
Her rep declined to comment on the relationship.