When Miranda Lambert dropped the bombshell on Valentine's Day last year that she'd secretly wed Brendan McLoughlin — an eight-years-younger NYPD cop and new dad whom she'd met just months earlier — fans were both shocked and intensely intrigued.
But what seemed like a rash move for the unlucky-in-love songstress — and a major departure, after a string of romances with fellow country stars — has turned out to be the real deal. Reveals an insider: "She's always spilling secrets about her sexy marriage — and she says this one is forever."
Lambert, 36, and McLoughlin, 28, had a whirlwind romance: Three months after meeting on the set of Good Morning America — where she was performing and he was on duty as an officer — they tied the knot in secret, only to spill the news on social media.
But while their courtship was fast and furious, the easy-going, nature-centric life they've built — from working the land on Lambert's 400-acre Tennessee farm to cruising across the country in an Airstream travel trailer — is as down-home blissful as it gets. So much so, the Grammy winner couldn't wait to show off her life (and her hunky hubby!) in the video for her new single, "Settling Down," featuring Lambert and McLoughlin cuddling and flirting in between bouts of picturesque horse-riding and fishing.
"It was shot at my happy place with my happy person," Lambert gushed, "so it was a really good day."
The PDA wasn't just for the cameras. "They literally can't keep their hands off each other," dishes the insider. "Brendan completes her — he's the sweetest, most genuine person she's known. She calls him her 'pretty boy,' and they act like a couple of teenagers, the way they laugh and chase each other around the house."
They're so simpatico that McLoughlin retired from the police force in February to be constantly by Lambert's side — even assuming roles as security detail and meet-and-greet monitor on her tours.
"Brendan's friends joke that he quit his job to become a groupie, but he's happy being Miranda's go-to guy for everything she needs," says the insider. "He's got ideas of his own for the future, but he's content staying on this path for the time being."
Lambert has likewise folded herself into McLoughlin's life, taking on an active role as stepmom to his nearly 2-year- old son Landon, who lives in New York with his mom (McLoughlin's ex, Kaihla Rettinger).
"Miranda even bought an apartment in the city, so things are nice and homey for Landon," says the insider, "and she and Brendan visit as often as they can." Lambert's thrown herself wholeheartedly into the new role: "My stepson is amazing," she's said. "I'm loving that whole phase... this is a whole new journey. It's great."
So great, in fact, that she's itching to start a family ASAP. "Miranda would love to have 10 kids with Brendan, but she'll settle for two or three," says the insider. "They're definitely planning on starting soon."
The insider adds that while Lambert isn't exactly competitive with her ex-husband, Blake Shelton — who started dating Gwen Stefani soon after their 2015 divorce — she wouldn't mind being first to welcome a little one.
"Miranda's told friends that she wants to have a baby before Blake," spills the insider. "She's not bitter, but she has a healthy ego, and let's just say they're not each other's biggest fans after how badly it all ended. Getting pregnant before Gwen and Blake would be a sweet thing to achieve, for sure."
Still, the insider insists that Lambert doesn't have any ill will toward her ex. "She's feeling generous these days — she truly, honestly hopes Blake is as happy as she is."