Getting His Game Back: A Novel - book cover
Women's Fiction
  • Publisher : Dell
  • Published : 25 Jan 2022
  • Pages : 336
  • ISBN-10 : 0593356624
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593356623
  • Language : English

Getting His Game Back: A Novel

"A thoroughly satisfying love story with a big, beating heart."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This book is emotional, steamy and sweet-a triple threat! De Cadenet tackles mental health, gender stereotypes, and interracial romance with care and creativity. I loved it!"-Chantel Guertin, author of Instamom

Khalil Sarda went through a rough patch last year, but now he's nearly back to his old self. All he has to do is keep his "stuff" in the past. Real men don't have depression and go to therapy-or, at least they don't admit it. He's ready to focus on his growing chain of barbershops, take care of his beloved Detroit community, and get back to being the ladies' man his family and friends tease him for being. It'll be easy . . . until Vanessa throws him completely off his game. 

Vanessa Noble is too busy building a multimillion-dollar tech career as a Black woman before age thirty to be distracted by a relationship. Not to mention, she's been burned before, still dealing with the lingering hurt of a past breakup. Besides, as her friends often remind her, she'll never find a man who checks all the boxes on her famous List. Yet when she desperately needs a shape-up and happens upon one of Khalil's barbershops, the Fade, he makes her reconsider everything. Khalil is charming, intelligent, sexy, and definitely seems like he'd treat a woman right . . . but he's not Black. 

Vanessa may be willing to take a chance on Khalil, but a part of him is frustratingly closed off, just out of her reach. Will old patterns emerge to keep them apart? Or have they both finally found a connection worth throwing away the playbook for?

Editorial Reviews

"With this stellar debut, [Gia] de Cadenet thoughtfully explores the complexities of interracial dating and the impact of mental health on relationships. . . . Khalil and Vanessa set a high standard for couples with their patience, support, and respect for one another-combined with sizzling chemistry. The result is a thoroughly satisfying love story with a big, beating heart."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This book is emotional, steamy and sweet-a triple threat! De Cadenet tackles mental health, gender stereotypes, and interracial romance with care and creativity. I loved it!"-Chantel Guertin, author of Instamom

Readers Top Reviews

This one started off a bit slow, but gained steam at the end. Khalil had a breakdown a year ago and his life went into the garbage. He is still in therapy and still unsure how to get back on track. He has some amazingly successful barber shops and is looking to come into the modern age with an app. Enter Vanessa, the app goddess. She comes into the barber shop when her current salon is closed just for a trim. While there is a spark, Khalil is hesitant to ask her out because his confidence has taken a hit. When he finds out she is an App developer, the next time he sees her he asks her for her help. Vanessa and Khalil embark on a business relationship before they enter into a personal one, and I have to say I loved their journey together. They bonded over their thoughts on diversity and trying to do better, but they stayed out of genuine feelings towards one another. Khalil told Vanessa about his issues, but he didn't let her see the real deep depression he felt. Towards the end of the book, things got heavy, but they were so real and raw that I loved it. I loved the deep rooted feelings Vanessa felt for Khalil and the fact that she wasn't going to let him down. There are so many topics in this book that need to be discussed and I am so happy that the author wrote about them.
kathleen g
Vanessa and Khalil meet when she needs a haircut but this meeting leads to so much more. She's an app developer who has struggled with dating, especially interracial dating. He owns a chain of barber shops and has struggled with his mental health. Can they find happiness? Well this is a romance and there's a bit of steam as their relationship grows. I liked the diversity and the fact that both own their entrepreneurial business lifestyle. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read and a nice debut.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter One


Maybe he was becoming obsessive.

Khalil shifted in the hard plastic seat. While aesthetically pleasing, it clearly wasn't made for guys over six feet who wanted their asses not to hurt while they sat in waiting rooms. He squinted, focusing again on the potted plant next to the far window. It had to be fake. He counted the little white flowers again. There were seven. Were there seven last month? He was sure there were seven two weeks ago. Before that, he couldn't remember. And it was spring, but still that seemed like a lot of flowers for the time of year. Maybe he was making something out of nothing.

"Mr. Sarda."

The low rumble of his doctor's voice bounced off the empty seats, rolling over the modern concrete floor.

"Dr. E," he said, standing to shake his hand and follow him into his office.

"What's new?" Dr. Edwards asked from his leather armchair, smiling at Khalil as he settled into a much more comfortable seat on the other side of the coffee table.

Khalil took a deep breath, sliding his palms together. This was always the strange part, the transition from wherever his head was in the waiting room, to focusing on what he wanted to talk to Dr. E about. But this was part of his new normal. Talking openly to people he'd met after his breakdown six months ago was a challenge.

"Well. It's been a good couple of weeks, I think. Work's been busy, but good." He slid his phone out of his pocket, opening it to his mood tracking app. "I've been on a nice trend lately," he said, handing it over.

"If you're being honest, you've been on a nice trend the past two months," said Dr. E after taking a moment to read. "You haven't had a relapse; you've been taking your medication as prescribed. Last time you told me you felt you'd turned a page." He handed Khalil his phone back.

"Yeah," he said, sliding it into his pocket. "It's just . . ." He ran his hands down his jeans. "Karim brought it up. Me still not dating."

Dr. Edwards leaned back in his chair, his hands relaxed on his khaki-covered thighs.

"What did he have to say?" he asked.

"It was a joke, him ribbing me, you know? But he made a good point."

Dr. Edwards kept listening, his expression neutral. Khalil stifled an urge to call his therapist Uncle Phil; certain other patients already had.

"It's been ages since I've been interested in a woman. Don't know the last time it's been this long."

It had taken a while, but Khalil was finally comfortable with Dr. Edwards's nod, his silent response. Khalil caught himself readjusting his watch and the friendship bracelets his niece had made for him. His watchband easily covered the scar, but there wasn't any harm in being careful. The "Khalil the Player" joke always made him uncomfortable. He knew it came from a good place, from both his twin and his best friend, Darius. And yeah, from the outside looking in, he could admit that it might once have seemed like he fit that description. He loved women; he'd never treat them as disposable. But since he hadn't been able to keep his sadness in check, and Nia had left him, and things had gone . . . bad, he'd lost interest. Which, now that he was doing better, felt really strange. Though after the past few months he'd had, he wasn't sure what was supposed to be normal and what was supposed to be strange anymore.

"Maybe it's a good thing," Khalil continued.

"What's that?" Dr. Edwards asked.

"That I'm noticing, that I'm missing having someone in my life. Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting back to myself," he said, shrugging. "I don't know."

Dr. Edwards nodded, but remained silent.

"And like we've talked about, maybe I was hiding. Maybe I was turning to relationships to stay away from feeling sad."

"How do you feel now?" Dr. Edwards asked.


"Are you having those same feelings? Do you feel you have a reason to hide?"

Khalil hesitated before replying. Enough time to realize he already had the answer in his pocket.

"No. Like you said, my mood's been great for months." He rested his forearms on his thighs. "But still, all this, my stuff is here." He gestured to the space between them. "What woman would want to deal with a man whose emotions get the better of him?"

Dr. Edwards raised a hand.

"Is it possible that you're getting ahead of yourself? First, I think it's important to recognize that it's good you're interested in meeting someone. Just meeting them. You don't have to share all of your challenges right away."

Khalil nodded. Darius and Karim were still in the dark and they were the closest people in his life. No reason to behave differently with someone right off the bat.

"If you cr...