AMANDA KNOX, the brunette beauty unfairly jailed in Italy for four years, has traded her prison cell for a shabby small apartment above a Chinese restaurant – because she’s fallen in love with a struggling musician!

What started out as a rebound romance after being ditched by her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, the relationship is now being called a “trial marriage,” say sources.

Amanda is so in love with 24-year-old University of Washington music student James Terrano that she moved into his $1,400-a-month place under a red neon sign in Seattle’s rundown Chinatownneighborhood. But they may not be living there for long, seeing how Amanda has a million-dollar book payday on the way!

“Amanda has fallen head over heels in love with James,” a source close to the Knox family told The ENQUIRER. “They’ve actually known each other for a while and they corresponded while Amanda was in prison.”

Knox, an exchange college student, spent four years in a Perugia prison for the brutal murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, before an appeals court overturned the verdict and set her free.

As The ENQUIRER reported back in October, Amanda had secretly promised Sollecito that she’d marry him and have his baby.

But once she flew home, Raffaele’s family balked at the romance and Amanda fell for James.

“Their relationship quickly blossomed and now her family wouldn’t be at all surprised if they get married in the coming year,” said the close source.

James comes from a middle-class family in upstate New York, and he and Amanda, also 24, are said to spend all their time together.

“Amanda’s father says that James has become his daughter’s ‘protector’ because she’s still having some trouble adjusting to life outside of prison,” noted the source. “He told me, ‘She feels safe around James. He’s become her knight in shining armor!’”

James has encouraged Amanda to take self-defense courses and consider going back to college. If she does, she may want to study writing as she’s lined up to pen her memoirs – and make a fortune!

Amanda has hired Washington, D.C., super-lawyer Robert Barnett to represent her in a book deal and “other opportunities” based on her prison ordeal, her family’s spokesman said.

Barnett has represented notables including President Obama, Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush.

Book industry sources speculate that the advance alone will hit seven figures!

“James is already helping Amanda put her book project together by sorting through all of her journals and putting them in order,” said the source.

“It’s become a real labor of love. But you can guess they won’t be living in the shabby apartment when she gets her big fat book advance!”