America’s new favorite matchmaking series has finally struck reality show gold.

When the Will Packer-produced Ready to Love premiered last year on the OWN network, many people rolled their eyes at the idea of a Black version of “The Bachelor” receiving real estate on Oprah Winfrey’s much-coveted and revered network. “Oh my goodness, why do we need another For the Love of Ray J or Flavor of Love dating show” people questioned. But when the Nephew Tommy hosted program debuted, people’s minds were quickly changed.

This was a show custom made for us- seriously considering the things that make the Black grown and sexy tick- tapping into real spaces of social identity (that we all have) that prevents us from finding true love.

Ready to Love, a dating series from Will Packer Media and Lighthearted Entertainment, explores the real-life dating interactions of sexy, successful and grown black men and women in their 30s and 40s who are each looking for lasting love and an authentic relationship. A unique twist on a typical dating show, Ready to Love highlights the men’s observations and experiences in the search for true love in Atlanta. 

Ready to Love, at its core, is not just a dating show but a social experiment. Will Packer Media and Lighthearted Entertainment created this piece of pop culture to explore “the real-life dating interactions of sexy, successful and grown black men and women in their 30s and 40s who are each looking for lasting love and an authentic relationship.”

When the first season dropped, like many dating shows, we fell in love with would-be couples (yes… even at The Source we are lovesick and sappy following these strangers) as they go on their quest for endless love. But we did not get that love match.

Even with this season… we watched some stars twinkle… but as was revealed on last week’s part 1 of the reunion… none of the finalists were ready to make that march down the aisle.

None of the finalists.

However, Mike and Ieashia who were eliminated early on (mostly because they could not find it in themselves to check for other people) are. They have recently gotten engaged and The Source has gotten the first interview about their true blue love story.

Mike, what was it about Ieashia that made you say she is the one. You had a cast full of beautiful and successful women. How was she special?

[Mike] I liked her from the start when we first got there. It was her vibe. I liked how she carried herself. Ieashia did not seem to be on 10, but was there because she really wanted love. After talking to her, she had good qualities that she liked and I found that even as I was supposed to talk to other women, I always came back to her.

The show is like speed dating on steroids. There was just so much going on and I really just liked how she vibed.

What was is this “vibe” thing? Can you explain it with words?

[Mike] Vibe… chemistry… You can tell from the beginning that she liked me and I liked her. And while I can’t really explain it, I was attracted to her because she was honest and vulnerable.

Ieashia, what about you? How was it for you? Can you walk us through this?

[Ieashia] Well, they had us all meet at this beautiful mansion. I was the second girl arriving at the meet and greet. I am very observant and I was looking at everything at the mansion, taking everything in. It was a beautiful place, champagne flowing, and gorgeous Black people. I got there early and was happy being able to see everyone as they walked in. And Mike came in like guy number three. 

[Editor’s Note] According to Ieashia, the benefit of the two coming in early (he coming in almost immediately after her), was that they would be able to connect early.

We were like in an order to see each other first. He walked in and I noticed that he had a beautiful complexion and was really in shape. We just clicked.

He asked me where I was from and I told him I was from Detroit. Mike said, ‘They look like this in Detroit.’ Mike was also kinda stand-offish. Don’t get it twisted, he is a fun person… He is just a little quiet. Which is different than who I am… I am very talkative. Either way, he let me know early on that he liked me. 

Still, this is about meeting all kinds of people. So I went and met everyone first. However, somehow we kept connecting. He said, ‘I knew you would be back.’

Mike was very vocal about liking me, ‘I like the way you look.’ He was consistent with that throughout the initial 10-hour shift of that day. I would flirt with him. We even ventured off to get alone time but really did not talk until the second day. The persistence was a big attraction for me.

Mike noted that he liked her spunk and that Detroit women were aggressive. And though there were sparks from the jump (maybe because of there being sparks from the jump) the two were excused off the show. But that was cool, because Mike, 41, and Ieashia, 38, were indeed ready to love and did not need the play the game of mixing and mingling to see that they had found something really special.

What kind of special?

The kind of special where she doesn’t order everything she wants and encourages him to get something she wants to munch on too and eats right on off his plate. Yeah… you know that special right? The kind that makes them check in on each other all the time.

The kind that makes this Inglewood, CA native (by way of Arkansas) truck driver fall in love with this nurse- believing that they were indeed love at first sight.

Both are single parents and do not want any more. They joke and call themselves the Black Brady Bunch. One of the things that Ieashia loves about Mike is that he is a single father, particularly since she loves children.

While the two are talking about children, a syrupy gush of love explodes in the conversation. He is fuzzy on the inside and despite seeming like the big Black tough man, he is simply a sweetheart that loves the people in his life his woman and his children.

Mike and Ieashia, tell me about your children, how do you manage and what do they think about all of this.

[Mike] I have had custody of my daughter since she was in the third grade.

She likes Ieashia and my daughter doesn’t like anyone. That was a clincher for me. My daughter is 16 years old and I have a 20-year-old son.

[Ieashia] I had been previously married and I have a 9-year-old son. My 18-year-old is my daughter.

So what is this like and how did you guys work this out after elimination?

We see each other about once a week and spend the entire weekend (Friday to Sunday night). We’ve been doing this ever since we got together. He got eliminated first and then I did. Before he left, we exchanged numbers.

How was that for you to see him go… did you fight for your man to stay?

[Ieashia] The ladies and I all talked about who should be eliminated and why they wanted HIM to go. I did fight for him. I told them he should stay because he was really a good father. He is a single father and a good heart and that he is hardworking and domestic. He is not in the streets. But he was just too quiet. He didn’t show interest in no one else. He didn’t even talk to anyone else. They called him ‘weird.’

[Mike] I thought not talking while being on the show was going to be easier than to date a lot of girls that I wasn’t interested in. After I talked to someone I really liked I felt like I would be lying to say something I really didn’t mean to someone else for the purpose of staying on the show. I never wanted her to get that idea about me. I never wanted to do anything that would push her away. I also was not in my element. I was not comfortable and jumping in and out… it felt rude. 

So what is one of the last dates you two have gone on?

We went to a concert. We went to the Winterfest. 

Who was there?

[The two chime in naming the performers] Tyrese, Joe, Monica, Anthony Hamilton, Charlie Wilson, Joe, and Tyrese. 

[Ieashia] Mike likes Anthony Hamilton. He really likes the real slow jams.

He is always playing the slow jams. He likes Anthony, but my favorite is Carl Thomas.

[Mike] “I never liked him.

And so the two of you got engaged!!!!!

[Ieashia] We got engaged on Dec. 8th. I am a Virgo and he is a Cancer. Cancers are sensitive.. he said he only cries when his boo not there… very expressive and emotional… 

So we were at his home… very intimate… his daughter was there. My daughter was away. His daughter was recording. And he kept saying that he doesn’t like it when you go home… it was bothering him… what to do about that… even though she gets on his nerve… he said he ‘would rather have a bad time with you and then a good time with someone else.’ 

[Editor’s Note] Wait… did homeboy just quote Luther on her? We can’t with them… they are just too cute.

His daughter gave him the ring and I started to scream.

Can we get a show to see the wedding? We definitely would tune in.

[Ieashia] We don’t know but there is gonna be a wedding regardless… 

Check out more about their love story and the rest of the couples and their drama as it plays out on part 2 of the Ready to Love Reunion Special on Saturday, December 28 (10 p.m. – 11 p.m. ET/PT).