Nicole Richie & Brody Jenner: Heating Up

Even Richie's dad Lionel approves of the romance, calling Jenner "a great kid"

Nicole Richie and Brody Jenner’s relationship may look like a typical quickie Hollywood romance, but don’t be fooled: The pair go way back – he even predates Paris Hilton.

“I was there when (Brody) was born!” Nicole’s dad, Lionel Richie, a longtime friend of Jenner’s songwriter mom Linda Thompson and Olympic track star dad Bruce Jenner, tells PEOPLE. “They grew up together. To see them together now is like, ‘Where are you going with this?’ But they’re having a wonderful time.”

Just three months after splitting up with ex-fiancé DJ AM – for the second time – Richie, 24, has been cozying up with the 23-year-old Princes of Malibu star. (He recently split from yet another reality TV star, Laguna Beach alumna Kristin Cavallari.)

Indeed, from lunch at Hollywood’s La Conversation Café (a Nicole fave) last week, to dinner at Mr. Chow, to an A-list birthday bash for celeb stylist Rachel Zoe in Hollywood, the two “just fit together,” says a source who knows Richie and Jenner.

“They are a very normal couple and Brody is a decent, nice, down-to-earth guy,” the source continues. “Even though it’s relatively new, it seems like they ve been together forever.” Or at least since the ’80s, when the pals often played at one another’s houses.

“(Nicole) is like my godchild. … She’s a darling girl, very intelligent and very together,” Thompson tells PEOPLE. “I think they’re very cute (as a couple). Will they get married? Who knows? He’s young and so is she.”

But does Jenner get the all-important dad stamp of approval? “Oh, yeah,” says Lionel. “He’s a great kid.”

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