JENNIFER Love Hewitt has cast herself in a sizzling romantic sequel — stirring the embers of her old love affair with hunk Joey Lawrence.

Jennifer and Joey — who broke up in 1996 — recently spent an afternoon ambling in and out of shops in Beverly Hills, and later took in some Chinese food at Chin Chin in Encino.

“Jennifer and Joey have hooked up again,” revealed an insider. “They spent hours walking around, going into shops, talking and just enjoying each other’s company.

“They were laughing it up, and had a great time just goofing around. Anyone who saw them on the street would have thought they were in love!”

The careers of “Party of Five” star Hewitt and “Blossom” star Lawrence have gone in opposite directions since they split six years ago. Hewitt went on to star in the big-screeners “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Heartbreakers” with Gene Hackman and Sigourney Weaver.

The 22-year-old actress made her mark romantically as well. She’s been linked with MTV host Carson Daly, actor Will Friedle, rock singer Rich Cronin and others.

Joey, meanwhile, went from heartthrob to has-been.

He’s trying to score as a film star with the grown-up name Joseph Lawrence, and appeared in the slasher flick “Urban Legends: Final Cut.”

Now it looks as if he is making the cut with Jennifer. “They looked like they were very much in love,” said the insider.

And a pal of Hewitt divulged: “Jennifer is intent on finding love in 2002. She always remarked to me that no one was more special than Joey when they dated some years back.

“At the time, she couldn’t settle down because her career was taking off — and he was a genuine heartthrob, who wasn’t able to focus solely on her. But now they’ve both matured, and she’s ready to settle down with Mr. Right.”