A Duke Worth Fighting For, the final book in Christina Britton’s Isle of Synne series, is a classic "Beauty and the Beast"-esque tale. Margery Kitteridge, the circumspect widow of a soldier who died at the battle of Waterloo, is challenged with aiding Daniel Hayle, the battle-scarred and socially inept Duke of Carlisle, with his matrimonial prospects.
Margery has received an anonymous blackmail note accusing her husband of cowardice and desertion. Desperate to preserve her beloved’s posthumous reputation, Margery is scrambling to come up with the funds to pay the blackmailer. She hits upon the idea of a trade with Daniel: She will help him find a bride in exchange for 100 pounds.
Daniel’s nights are ravaged by guilt, sorrow and nightmares from his experiences in the Napoleonic wars. His days are ravaged by pain and despair, both from his terrible scars and from the fact that he’s now unable to walk without aid. In one especially moving scene, he swims for the first time since Waterloo, and in the water, his body moves beautifully without pain or hindrance. Daniel cries in joy, relief and a whole host of other emotions. As Daniel and Margery spend more and more time together, it becomes clear that she is his perfect counterpart: stable and supportive, a secure sanctuary for a battered soul. Despite her still-present devastation and grief, Margery and Daniel start to build a relationship.
While aspects of A Duke Worth Fighting For evoke the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale and its recent adaptations (for example, there is a dashing, yet dastardly villain a la the Disney films' Gaston character), Britton imbues her novel with a gravitas and poignancy all its own. She sensitively explores how Daniel’s bodily injuries pale in comparison to those inflicted on his soul, balancing darker elements with his growing resiliency and Margery’s inspiring loyalty to the people she loves. A Duke Worth Fighting For is a truly worthy end to the Isle of Synne series.