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Long Black Veil was featured as one of the winners of the IndieReader Awards on the USA TODAY Happily Ever After blog.

Indie authors continue to take the book world by storm. Almost weekly there's news of another fabulously successful indie author being signed by a big publisher. IndieReader, a website that caters to the, well, indie reader (duh!), recently gave out the IndieReader Discovery Awards (IRDA) for 2013. Here are five of the winning books in the romance category, along with reviews from IndieReader:

Long Black Veil by Jeanette Battista ($3.99)

Devon Mackson has lived with her grandmother since she was 8, when her mother was arrested for prostitution and drug possession.

Bright, hardworking and motivated, Devon has her sights set on earning a good scholarship to a top college, so that she can escape from poverty and from the stigma of her mother's actions. When a guidance counselor tells her about a scholarship that would require her to prove that five generations of her family have lived in the area, she starts seeking out family records in the local archives.

In the process, Devon comes in contact with Brock Cutler, the library intern, who also happens to be the school's most privileged and popular sports hero. Brock starts paying unexpected attention to Devon, and as their friendship progresses they find themselves haunted by a figure in a long black veil who may carry a warning of a dreadful family curse.

As Devon's research progresses, she begins to learn unsettling facts about her parents, facts that seem to mirror events in the ghost's past far too closely for comfort. What is the ghost really trying to tell them? Is history really repeating itself inescapably in Devon's family line? Can Devon and Brock find out what really happened to both the ghost and to Devon's parents before the curse strikes them, too?

The story is both well-written and thought-provoking, with the delicious eerie touch of a ghost story deftly blended with the tenderness of a young adult romance. The characters are well-developed and believable. Devon in particular manages to blend the pragmatism, courage and determination of a girl forced by circumstances into maturity beyond her years with all the giddy sweetness of teenage love, in a way that wins the reader's heart completely. The plot holds the attention beautifully through a number of intriguing turns, and the resolution is deeply satisfying. The tone of the writing is clear, intelligent, intimate and a bit wry, very clearly catching Devon's voice.

There were a few typos, but nothing to distract the reader from the story. The villains, both teenage and adult, were perhaps a bit less three-dimensional than the heroes, but that is at least partly because we see them from Devon's point of view, and they are given more than enough motivation to be substantially nasty to her.

An excellent book for anyone who loves a good ghost story or a charming teenage romance. It's well worth a read, and I hope to see more stories by this author in the future. (Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader)

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Jeanette Battista's books on Goodreads
Leopard Moon Leopard Moon (Moon, #1)
reviews: 166
ratings: 1164 (avg rating 3.82)

Jackal Moon Jackal Moon (Moon, #2)
reviews: 43
ratings: 283 (avg rating 3.95)

Hyena Moon Hyena Moon (Moon, #3)
reviews: 23
ratings: 186 (avg rating 4.01)

Hunter Moon Hunter Moon (Moon, #4)
reviews: 16
ratings: 110 (avg rating 4.07)

Long Black Veil Long Black Veil
reviews: 5
ratings: 13 (avg rating 4.31)