A tasteful and unobtrusively researched gallery of Gloriana's suitors, with each courtship weighted by the nature and depth of Elizabeth's response. The author reviews the traumatic deprivations and very real dangers of Elizabeth's childhood and adolescence--during which her survival skills matured along with her acute awareness of the humiliating (and often fatal) disadvantages of royal marriages. Ross then calls the roll of those out to win the Queen's hand or at least submission--from that man of little judgment, the virile Thomas Seymour, who offered her the first experience of love and courtship at fifteen, to the last sad sunset betrayal of Essex when Her Majesty was 63. However, the two major involvements in the Queen's life are given full attention. There was the nearly lifelong attachment to Robert Dudley ""who provided her with the greatest emotional satisfaction she ever knew. . . [with] a sense of underlying reality which set it apart from all others."" And there is a fresh and faintly unorthodox view of the forays of the ""Frog Prince"" Alencon, the unfavored son of Catherine de Medici; the author maintains that Elizabeth was in this case very near marriage. Along the way are accounts of courtships by royal hopefuls whose ambassadors suffered through a bewildering series of feints and flirtatious provocations. Elizabeth's demand for amorous attention, the author feels, arose not from vanity in the usual sense but from a ""restless uncertainty. . . external signs and rituals assumed an unnatural importance."" A portrait of Elizabeth which interprets her virginity as neither wholly an instrument of state policy nor a full-blown neurosis, but rather the natural result of personal history and the demands of her situation, this provides an engaging and balanced overview--popular but pertinent.