It’s clear that while I enjoy historical romances I really don’t abide period-appropriate restrictions on the heroines. Part and parcel of the enjoyment means having to put up with heros who have a long list of former paramours (and no STIs, magically) and heroines who are hindered by society or petticoats or chaperones and sometimes all of the above. So goes the average book.
The above average book, of which this is definitely one, includes realistic ways to even the odds a bit, with enough spark to make it interesting. I was actually really strongly reminded of this random book I have on my bookshelf–the first of the Amelia Peabody series, Crocodile on the Sandbank, a sort of mystery/Indiana Jones hybrid if the main character was a Victorian era busybody. That book is much more heavy on the mystery element and less so on the romance-y bit, which is why there are apparently 20 (20!) novels in the series (spoiler for the series:[despite Amelia getting together with gruff bearded archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson in the first book itself].
Clearly if you want novels in which virgins don’t need to be bespoiled you must go with widowers, the only type of characters who are suitable partners for rakes. Daphne Pembroke is the best sort of widow, one who never liked her ancient sexist husband and was left with gobs of money and time to study when he passed away. This book is 10000% The Mummy but with more sex and less (no) magic, and the mental casting of Chris Hemsworth as Rupert (Thor: Ragnarok, yes, but also some of the Ghostbusters handsome oaf charm) is perfect. In a short list of active redheads, I would say Jessica Chastain as Daphne, but that’s because I think she’s amazing and can do anything.
A fair warning for all sorts of like, period appropriate(?) but sometimes gratuitous descriptions of the Egyptian setting in uncomfortable stereotypes.