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Feature book: It Happened on Maple Street

20 April 2011

It Happened on Maple Street by Tara Taylor Quinn

Remember with the first True Vows book, Hard to Hold, I described the new series of real-life romances. Tara Taylor Quinn reveals many of her secrets in this book about her own real-life love.

This will be a different type of review. This story is semi-autobiographical and as the author says in the acknowledgments “the parts that tell our love story are completely true. The tragedy is completely true. We fictionalized other aspects”. Tara Taylor Quinn is fairly open and honest (despite the fictionalised parts) about how she came to be where she is today.

In this story Tara Gumser always knew she would write for Harlequin and this is the one mainstay in her life, even though there are many other twists and turns. She is determined, despite these events, to fulfil her goal. Her family is both close and loving but she sees herself as a non-entity, someone who can get lost in the crowd. She is a good girl who wants to wait for marriage, as girls did in the 1970s. It’s her internal struggles to do this that leads to her insecurity about who she is, especially as the men in her life say and call her different names.

The story of Tara and Tim Barney begins at Wright State University in the 1970s; they were both in their first year of university and both intrigued by the other, each trying desperately to work up the courage to speak to the other, until one day it happens. From there, the pair begin their journey until the inability to communicate openly with each other destroys the relationship and they find themselves on different paths.

The journey to rediscover each other is long and hard, with many a bump in the road. For Tara, it is placing trust in another male who then betrays that trust in an indecent act that shatters her ability to trust, makes her doubt herself and makes her rethink her sense of self. She finds a sense of peace when she marries a man who she thinks will not destroy her sense of self-worth but in the end is abusive. It is through this that Tara confirms the way she feels about herself and how she lives her life.

I loved reading this insight into Tara and Tim’s life. I was particularly struck by the last section of the book when Tara and Tim reunite and Tara talks to Tim in her, what she terms, TTQ persona. It is the personality she wants to be, not the insecure girl who lays beneath and the one that Tim knew from university. It takes much courage on Tim’s behalf to get through the persona, especially as it has taken the writer Tara so long to build the walls. They are able to find the deep love from their university days, to have it bloom and to find that happy ending.

The story certainly left me with questions and wondering what was real and what wasn’t. Do we want to know this much about the authors we read? Or do we like a glimpse what our favourite authors are like when they are in their private persona? Do all writers feel this way when they take on an alias? Do they have the bravado to do and say things they normally might not?

But the story resonated with me and is also likely to resonate with women who have been abused. It gives you the happy feeling that Tara finally found her true love despite the men along the way. But it is also hard to comment on the story as you feel like you are criticising a friend.

For more information go to:

Reviewed by Heather

A review copy of this book was provided by the author. All ARRA members have the opportunity to win this book – leave a comment to go in the draw.

The giveaway competition is now closed. The winner was Barbara.

  1. Aimee permalink
    15 May 2011 5:39 pm

    Great review!


  2. Barbara permalink
    22 April 2011 2:32 pm

    Hi Tara
    This sounds a very interesting book to read … I have been lucky to never have been abused so can only find out about it by reading…. I am glad that you have a HEA…. good review Heather

  3. 21 April 2011 4:05 pm

    Isn’t it true of most people – having a public vs. private persona? For me, I know there’s a huge difference in the “me” as a teacher, as an employee, as a wife and friend. I can only imagine that the division increases with a rise in how “public” a person is, especially in light of traumatic events in his/her (public or private) life.

    For me, the raw honesty of the book helped explain a lifetime of writing intensely deep characters, ones who demonstrated a quiet strength in the search for their happily-ever-after.

    Thanks for featuring the book – I enjoyed visiting this site!

  4. Kaelee permalink
    21 April 2011 12:19 pm

    I’m late commenting so it is probably tomorrow in Australia already. Another very interesting stop on your tour Tara and Tim. The more I read about this book the more I want to read the book. I’ll have to see if I can find it at Chapters sometime soon.

  5. Heatkon permalink
    21 April 2011 9:20 am

    I think that you have managed to do that, take the next step in the healing process, but what makes it even more special is that you were able to reconnect with Tim. The love of a good, honest and caring man can overcome many a barrier.


  6. 21 April 2011 8:19 am


    Some parts of this book were incredibly difficult to write. I had to keep my mind on the goal – to use my experience to benefit others.

    Other parts were a joy to write. Tim and I got to re-live falling in love. That was wonderful!!

  7. 21 April 2011 1:37 am

    Heather, great review and insight. I also loved the novel not just because Tara is one of my go to favorite authors but it spoke to me also. Thank God I’ve never gone through abuse so I can’t speak from experience but it can’t be easy to stand up and speak out. I liked the part where she and Tim reconnect and she uses her TTQ persona.
    I’ve enjoyed a few of the True Vows novels and am looking forward to more.


  8. Darla permalink
    20 April 2011 11:37 pm

    I believe that for Tara and Tim writing this book is the next step in her healing. I was abused when I was young and in one relationship I had. When I talk with someone who has been abused I always feel like I’ve found a connection, a connection that I wish I could have found those many years ago. To know I was not alone, to know there was help if I needed it.

  9. Heatkon permalink
    20 April 2011 11:11 pm

    Hi Tara and Tim

    This was a great story and I would recommend it to others.
    Given the circumstances of your younger years, was it really difficult to expose your feelings and yourself in this way?


  10. 20 April 2011 9:52 pm


    Thank you for taking the time to read the book. Tim and I are thrilled to be featured today at ARRA!! We’ll be around all day in case anyone has any questions.

    I’d just like to add that I am a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the US. For any women in the US and Costa Rica who are reading this that would like more information about getting help for yourself or a loved one, the number is 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting. In Australia, the toll free, 24 hour a day number for a national domestic violence hotline is 1800 200 526. You have many other resources there as well.

    Happy reading everyone!

  11. Anonymous permalink
    20 April 2011 9:31 pm

    I Loved this post thank you for sharing it with us the readers ! I love her books and this one sounds like another brilliant one !

    Awesome giveaway !


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