I became the owner of an Islander 28 last year. "A deal I couldn't refuse". I did not "shop for the boat" and was not considering one. I was looking for a comfortable, simple and fun boat to introduce my wife to sailing along the Maine coast. I was thinking about a full keel. Your description of Perry's Islander 28 is right on. What a nice surprise!! What a well behaved boat! My wife has no other reference points. If we decide to buy a larger boat it is going to be hard and necessary to match this boats manners.
Another kind of "sweet boat" is the 15" Marshall cat we enjoy. What a fun boat. It can be a little wet if you sail it hard above 10 knots of wind but with its huge sail and the board up it seems to fly down wind. I like being that close to the water. The gaff rig allows you to depower quickly and with the wide beam and the shallow rudder it doesn't "trip" when it gets hit with a powerful gust, it just rounds up when the rudder is lifted out of the water. It can be sailed with water at the coaming and I can feel it hunting for the "sweet spot" when sailing "close hauled". Cat boats don't sail very close to the wind but with no keel hanging down, running can be very exciting.