Nancy Shevell and Paul McCartney
04/09/2009 at 11:30 AM EDT
Paul McCartney's relationship with Nancy Shevell may have been sealed with a hug – only he wasn't the one reaching out.
It was daughter Stella who embraced Shevell, McCartney's girlfriend of more than a year, at the annual Natural Resources Defense Council gala in New York in March. The two linked arms and laughed at the dinner honoring Stella, 37, for her organic skincare line. A fashion insider says "she's thrilled for her father."
After rumors of his children not approving of ex-wife Heather Mills
, McCartney is enjoying a distinct change of pace
. He met Shevell
in the summer of 2007 while staying at the Hamptons, and the two have quietly spent the last year hopping the globe together – being spotted vacationing in Antigua, celebrating at the Grammys in Los Angeles and just spending time together in London.
Despite the 17-year age difference (he's 66, she's 49), the two "are clearly well-suited, well-matched," a source tells PEOPLE. Shevell is a lot like McCartney's first wife, Linda: outdoorsy, an East Coaster (who went to school in Arizona) and a breast-cancer survivor (a bout in the mid-90s).
Shevell, a New York businesswoman, has also spent some quality time with his kids. She was backstage with James, 31, and Mary, 39, at an April 4 concert for the David Lynch Foundation. She also went to Stella's fashion show in France last fall
Even Mills says 5-year-old daughter Beatrice "likes [Shevell]." "Who doesn't move on in life?" asks the ex.
For more on McCartney and Shevell's love story, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on sale Friday