When I finished reading 'Virgin', I told Robert that it should be recognized by a major publisher. He responded by saying that most publishers will not touch a debut novel of over 100,000 words. 'Virgin' is close to 200,000. It's a shame because this book is one of the best historical novels I have ever read. There's no fluff in the pages of this book. Just straight historical fiction that read almost like non-fiction, but nowhere near as boring. Not that I generally think that non-fiction is boring, but some can be real yawners, if you know what I mean. What I enjoyed most about the book was that I was able to follow what was transpiring with Elizabeth directly parallel to what occurred from before Mary's (Elizabeth's sister) reign and then from the beginning until the end of Mary's reign. I enjoyed the intrigue that was involved in this plot to protect Elizabeth and to ensure that she would someday take the throne. There was a lot of breath holding on my part, even though I already knew the outcome. I liked the way Lady Jane Grey was portrayed here...more as a pawn then a willing participant in seizing the crown. Which made her end all the more tragic. Mary was not portrayed in a favorable light. She comes across as pias, petty and prudish and so full of hatred and the need for revenge for what happened to her mother that she takes religious fanaticism to a new extreme and many people die as a consequence. I'm on the fence about Mary. The character of John Dee was very interesting. I do not know much about him outside of this book, but after reading 'Virgin', I'm compelled to find out more. Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it portrays my favorite historical figure in the best possible light. Elizabeth was an enigma...a skillful and powerful ruler who chose to be married to her country instead of a man. How much of what we know is true? And what do we not know? Here in this favorite quote of mine from the book, Elizabeth speaks about the mystique that surrounds her (and John Dee):"Men say he has his darker side. And many, I know, go in fear of him. Like Us, a mystique has surrounded our friend, John Dee. It is good that this has occurred, and We shall keep it so. But really, in truth, he is a darling of a man - and no more a Crab than I might be a Virgin - though we'll say no more of that!"I highly recommend 'Virgin and the Crab' to all historical fiction lovers and especially to all who adore Elizabeth Tudor. It's an exciting twist on Elizabeth's path to the throne. Historically compelling and deliciously suspenseful! I'm looking forward to Robert's next novel!