Review by Kayleigh

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Series Name: Mapleton Novel Series, #2

“Isabel chanced a look in the rearview mirror.

Daniel had turned and was walking toward a vehicle, his back to her car. A woman had followed him out of the café, and Isabel caught a fleeting glimpse of his profile as he smiled at whomever she was.

A strong shot of jealousy slithered across her stomach. She sat up straighter in her seat, actively ignoring the unsettled feeling in her gut. 

She could hardly believe it. What were the chances she’d see Daniel before she’d even been in town for five minutes? Then again, this was Mapleton—not a very vast expanse. She was bound to run into him at some point. A tiny part of her had been hoping that he’d lost some of his good looks over the last four years. Apparently, that wasn’t going to be the case. She’d seen the way his biceps bulged from beneath his short-sleeve shirt. Yes, they were defined enough that she was able to ogle them, even just driving by, which proved her point. 

And he was dating someone?” 

I just adore small town romances and Leah Dobrinska knocks it out of the park with Good to be Home. 

When Isabel Marshall moved away from her hometown with hopes of making a name for herself in Los Angeles, she didn’t mean to abandon her roots, but that’s what happened. Now, four years later and having amassed an interior design empire, Isabel must return to Mapleton to film a home renovation special for her TV show. While most of the village welcomes her with open arms, her family and the ex-boyfriend she left in her dust are another story.

Daniel Smith couldn’t follow Isabel to California, no matter how badly he wanted to, because his grandfather needed him in Mapleton. Since she’s been gone, he’s moved on—or so he thought. But as they reconnect, Daniel can’t deny that though they’ve both changed, his feelings for Isabel haven’t. Unfortunately, a choice he made in her absence could ruin any chance of reconciliation.

Together, Daniel and Isabel must determine whether the love they once shared has stood the test of time and distance. Can they navigate Isabel’s fame, their past decisions, and the growth they’ve undergone to build the future of their dreams? 

I adored Good to be Home: it takes the Big Town successful lady returning to a small town trope and stretches and enhances it in all the right ways. Isabel Marshall moves away from Mapleton to make it big in LA and never looks back. In the process she burns a lot of bridges with her family and ex-boyfriend. When she has to return in order to save her home décor TV show, she’s challenged beyond matching paint colours. Can she redeem herself? Isabel is a powerhouse character who won over my heart with her vulnerability and willingness to admit her mistakes. I love a small town romance, and throw in a second chance romance and I am a goner! 

Isabel is a smart and savvy heroine who isn’t afraid of her ambition. I loved that she owned it and acknowledged that it meant that she couldn’t have everything in her life that she wanted: like a relationship and a better connection to her family back home. Even throughout the book, Isabel doesn’t give up on her dreams, in fact I’d say she’s MORE successful by the end of the book, but she also learns how to prioritize herself and fuel the relationships that are important to her. Which leads me to her very yummy and sweet ex, Daniel. Daniel is the one that got away for Isabel. When she leaves for LA they both must make hard decisions. And Daniel’s is to stay in their hometown and build his life as a writer there while taking care of his grandfather. Daniel is strong, loyal and quietly talented. When Isabel and Daniel meet up again the chemistry is so strong. Neither has ever gotten over the other, but they each have scars and are wary of starting something up when Isabel is still going back to LA. Daniel’s relationship with his grandfather and the members of his community is heartwarming. Could he be a better man? And yet, he’s also been able to make himself a success – something Isabel didn’t think could be done in a small town. Isabel and Daniel are an adorable couple with the kind of chemistry only old lovers can have. It made me yearn to have someone in my life who loved me unconditionally and already knew about me flaws and weaknesses as well as my strengths. 

As Isabel returns home, we get to see pockets of the person she was before she moved to the big city. Through her experiences we also get to watch her meet and rekindle relationships with old friends and family. Isabel is expecting everyone to hate her because she left and ignored them. She’s shocked because everyone just wants to keep supporting her. But that doesn’t mean they make it easy for her. Isabel must redeem herself not once or twice but many times in different ways. It serves to help develop her as a fleshed-out character and not a hallmark-style caricature of a successful woman. It makes for a really satisfying character growth arc and makes her decisions at the end of the book so realistic. Does Isabel stay in her small town, or does she go back to LA? You’ll have to read Good to be Home to find out!

While this is the second in a series, I read it first without any issues. I did however, instantly go and get the first book. I can’t wait to visit Mapleton again!

If you love Nora Roberts type small town romances with swoony love scenes and big secondary characters, then you will be sure to love Good to be Home. 

Thank you to Leah Dobrinska for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.