After being single for three years, Angie Lucas was beginning to think she would never meet The One.
So she decided to treat herself on her 40th birthday, booking a two-night solo staycation half an hour up the road from her Florida home.
It was the first time she’d used the rental app Airbnb, and little did she know it would change her life forever.
The nanny booked to stay at a property owned by Dennis Weisse, 67 – and they ended up falling in love.
After a three month whirlwind romance, Dennis popped the question despite the 26-year age gap.
She said: “I was beginning to lose hope that I’d ever meet the love of my life.
“It may sound corny, but Dennis has transformed my life and he treats me like a princess.”
However, things almost didn’t work out as Dennis initially turned down her stay request as he thought she was planning a Covid-19 rules breaching party.
Thankfully he realised his error and allowed her to stay, even surprising her with birthday presents, cupcakes and tequila.
Bonding over their love of old school hip hop and rock music, they soon realised that, despite an age gap of more than quarter of a century, they had plenty in common.
A whirlwind romance followed, with former UPS driver Dennis proposing to Angie, a nanny, at sunset in September, just three months after they met.
Angie, whose dad is 63 and mum is 59, said her family had been supportive of her decision – and had joked with Dennis’ 33-year-old son about being closer in age to him than her fiancé.
In response to critics of age gap love, she said: “I would just say ‘live and let live’.
“If you find somebody you love and they happen to be much older or much younger than you, as long as you are not harming anyone else and it is consensual and you love each other, you should never let age get in the way of true happiness and the chance of love.”
For the four years before she met Dennis, Angie had been living just half an hour away in neighbouring Lehigh Acres, although their paths had never crossed.
Their lives changed forever this summer when, unable to throw a traditional birthday party due to Covid-19 restrictions, she booked a two-night solo stay at his Airbnb.
“It was actually the first time I’d ever used Airbnb,” she added.
Misinterpreting her message, in which she explained it was her 40th, Dennis thought Angie was planning to host a gathering, so initially rejected her request.
She explained: “I wrote a very chatty greeting message for Dennis and told him it was my birthday.
“But he misunderstood and thought I was planning to have a party, which I was not – I’m very cautious about Covid – so he rejected my request.”
Realising his mistake, Dennis called Angie the following day to apologise – hoping to convince her to come for her trip as planned.
“I said I understood and was okay with the rejection, but he was so friendly and such an outgoing and gregarious character. We had a really nice chat,” Angie continued.
“In the end, he sweettalked me and convinced me to go ahead with the trip.”
In another twist of fate, Dennis was not even originally supposed to be in the state at the time of Angie’s visit.
The way Airbnb works means that hosts do not always stay at the property with their guests. Some rent out entire homes, while others offer a private room.
In Dennis’ case, he had intended to be in Colorado, almost 2,000 miles away, meaning Angie would have the place to herself.
But when a couple who had been looking after the property back in Florida unexpectedly had to leave, he had no choice but to fly home and make sure the house was ready for her arrival.
And to ensure she had the best birthday possible, he even arranged a special surprise for her.
He said: “Because of all the confusion with the site, I wanted to do something really nice for her birthday.
“I had the couple who had been looking after the property arrange some balloons, a birthday banner, card, cupcakes and tequila on the kitchen counter before they left.
“If they hadn’t left, I would never have come back to Florida, so never would have met Angie in person. The Lord works in mysterious ways.”
When Angie arrived on July 8 – the day before her 40th – she was blown away by the gesture.
That night, Dennis came back home from Colorado and the pair spent the evening chatting, immediately hitting it off.
Dennis stayed in his bedroom, while Angie slept in one of the guest rooms on the other side of the house.
She said she was a ‘little bit nervous’ about him being there for her stay, but because of the ‘wonderful phone call’ they had shared beforehand she already felt comfortable around him.
Angie said: “The next morning – my 40th birthday – we had coffee and he made me breakfast. We drank champagne mimosas on his pool patio.
“The conversation got even easier and more relaxed. Despite our age difference it’s very easy to get along and talk to each other.”
On July 10, she returned home to Lehigh Acres with thoughts of Dennis on her mind. Angie, whose previous largest age gap in a relationship was five years, said she ‘100 per cent knew’ there was a romantic spark between them.
Three days later, she went back to North Fort Myers to stay with him for a few days – and their relationship quickly progressed.
“We quickly started to fall in love and became basically inseparable,” Angie said.
Their first moment of intimacy sealed the deal for Dennis. He said: “We were floating in the pool and our first kiss was in the water. Again, the light-bulb went off and it was a kiss like no other.”
And at the beginning of September, Dennis invited Angie to move in with him.
She added: “He entrusted me with a key and even got down on one knee to offer it to me.
“Living together is great. Dennis always cooks lovely meals for me. We make each other laugh, and dote on one another.”
Their relationship going from strength to strength, Dennis took things to the next level on September 11, when he got down on one knee for a second time and asked Angie to marry him on a trip to Captiva Island, 45 mins away from North Fort Myers on the Gulf of Mexico.
She recalled: “We’d had dinner at a fancy restaurant, then afterwards, he got down on one knee again to propose marriage with a stunning sunset backdrop.
“It was so romantic.”
It did not come as a big shock to Angie – because they spoke about marriage in late July, and picked out the ring together a couple of days prior to the engagement.
She said: “It was no big surprise – but it was a wonderful, wonderful moment.”
Now, the couple, whose family and friends are overjoyed for them, are planning an intimate wedding ceremony next year.
Reflecting on her amazing love story, Angie cannot believe what was supposed to be a quiet birthday staycation has changed her life so drastically.
She concluded: “I could never have imagined I would fall in love with my Airbnb host. My life has been totally transformed.”
Echoing his bride-to-be’s sentiments, Dennis, who had been single for four-and-a-half years before meeting Angie, admitted that he had his heart set on her before they even met.
He said: “I kept staring at her picture on her profile on the Airbnb app. I was looking at it four or five times a day, I would blow it up to see every inch of her face. There was something about her, and I just couldn’t get her out of my head.”
Now, Angie helps Dennis with his Airbnb bookings by getting the house ready for guests – and she loves telling them how they met. She said: “People get a real kick out of our story. They love it.”
While Angie is content to not have children, she is happy to be a grandmother if Dennis’ son has a family one day.
She said: “It could still happen, and that would be wonderful if it did.”