Be forewarned that it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and there's no date yet for volume three. However, spoiler and speculations and gender thoughts:
For those of you who are worried, Damen and Laurent do get to have sex before the cliffhanger at the end of Volume Two.
It seems pretty clear to me that Laurent was sexually abused as a child by his uncle the Regent. It would be a cool twist if he actually wasn't, and all those hints mean something else.
I also thought that maybe Nicaise, the Regent's current toy, might be an illegitimate sibling of Laurent's, though it would work just as well if Laurent just recognized himself in the boy. If they were siblings, though, that would go with the whole twisted psychology of Dunnett. Otherwise, is Nicaise just a bit Marthe?
Thoughts on Gender:
Laurent's size and aspect would seem to make him fill a female role, if you go with the idea that slash has one man "played" by a woman. However, he's in a position of power like a male in our society, and is also very pale-skinned, blond, blue-eyed, while Damen's country is considered backward, his skin is darker (though not brown), he's a kinder person in general and openly protective towards children and slaves, and he's less intelligent, though to be fair everyone is less intelligent than Laurent because he is Lymond. For those reasons, Damen could be considered to be "female." I like the way both characters have both female and male elements in how they behave, in how they present themselves, and in how we're invited to think of them. I haven't figured this all out yet, if indeed there is anything to figure out beyond "here is a story, read and enjoy."
There's also a lot going on with submission as a role (Damen as a slave waiting for a chance to escape, making choices to help Laurent), the slaves in Damen's country who are trained to be "perfectly submissive" in both sex and everything else, and with Laurent needing help from Damen at various points.
I'll be thinking about this for a while.
I'm partway through my re-read of Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler for the WisCon Xenogenesis panel - this one has a lot in it about slavery and power, in the ways the child protagonist is vulnerable to adults even though he has alien abilities. And also themes of survival: the humans whose descendants will be physically changed are contrasted with the humans who want purely human offspring, but who are prevented from reproducing by the aliens.
Next up in a book for anonymous review which I can't tell you about.