Danielle Lombard is defending her pursuit of Dean Unglert on Bachelor in Paradise's fourth season despite his initial romance with Kristina Schulman.

Kristina and Dean hit it off in Paradise right away, and when production was halted for two weeks in June due to a sex scandal, Dean visited the bachelorette in her Kentucky hometown.

But when filming resumed, the couple lacked communication, and Dean made it known that he wanted to slow things down and maybe even date other people. And then the gorgeous Danielle arrived, and Dean was thrilled to accept her request for a date in Paradise.

"Kristina and I, we've always... I wouldn't even say we're friends," Danielle, a nail salon owner, told Us Weekly of the Russian dental hygienist.

"So I think going into it, you know, from what I had heard after the break and everything was that [Dean and Kristina] did go on a date together... But at the end of the day, Dean wanted to pull the breaks and take a step back."

Danielle also spoke with her fellow bachelorettes in Mexico before asking Dean out in order to avoid stepping on anyone's toes. Danielle was told, at the time, only Taylor Nolan and Derek Peth were in a serious relationship.

"I think that was, for me, Kristina's opportunity to say, 'Dean and I are dating, I really like him, I would be upset if you asked him on a date.' And she didn't say anything, and I knew that I was interested in Dean, so I was like, 'Alright,'" Danielle revealed.

"I pretty much got the green light from her. And then when I talked to [Dean], he was like, 'Yeah, you know, Kristina and I were talking during the break. We went on a date, sort of went well, but it was going too fast and I wanted to take a step back and maybe go on dates with other people.'"

Danielle added to Us, "So I was like, 'Alright, well, she didn't say anything, he said he's open to dating, so why wouldn't I ask him on a date?' He was an original person of interest."

Kristina didn't object to Dean and Danielle going on a date, but that doesn't mean she wasn't hurting.

Kristina told the cameras she was "pissed off" at Dean for accepting Danielle's invitation, and then she shed some tears. The situation only worsened later that night when Dean surprised Danielle with a birthday cake for her "half birthday" -- a sweet gesture he made after cuddling with Kristina by a bonfire.

At this point in the Bachelor in Paradise season, Dean is stuck in the middle of two beautiful women. And according to Danielle, she was very invested in Dean.
"We talked a lot on our date. I talked a lot too, I opened up. I think that's something that Dean still struggles with. But I feel like we're both kindred spirits in the sense where we're a little bit more laid back when it comes to dating," Danielle explained.

"I told him I wasn't looking to get married within the next couple of years and have kids; I really just wanted the partner who I could have as my partner in crime to explore life and go on adventures with, and then worry about settling down and having kids."

Danielle believes that she shared a connection with Dean over their "commonalities and shared interests."

"That was why he had this great, genuine connection afterward. It's interesting," Danielle noted.

Danielle told Us that Kristina and Dean, on the other hand, had a "very serious" vibe to their relationship because their "backgrounds were similar in a sense."

Danielle has been receiving a little bit of heat for getting in the way of Kristina and Dean's blossoming romance, but she apparently has zero regrets.

"At the end of the day, I know how my actions can be perceived on television and I know what really happened. And if Kristina and I were close friends and she wasn't comfortable with me dating Dean, then I would have just backed off. But that wasn't the case," Danielle insisted.

"We talked a lot during the show. We had a conversation and we've talked afterwards. And I think it's one of those situations where you can't help who you love and it's a tough situation."

Danielle revealed, however, that Dean had a responsibility to both Kristina and herself given strong feelings were involved.

"Dean really needed to step up and take on that role of really talking to us both and being very transparent, so it will be interesting to see what happens," Danielle said.

So how does she feel about Dean now? The bachelorette told the magazine, "I definitely care about [Dean] a lot. He's a great guy."

To read the Bachelor in Paradise spoilers to find out what happens between Dean, Danielle and Kristina, click here.
About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.