Spotlight & Giveaway: His First Choice by Tara Taylor Quinn

Posted May 10th, 2016 by in Blog, Spotlight / 49 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Tara Taylor Quinn to HJ!

Hi Tara and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, His First Choice!


Please summarize the book for the readers here:

His First ChoiceChild Services Representative Lacey Hamilton and single dad, Jem Bridges meet when she shows up unannounced at his home to investigate a report of child abuse. His shirt is splatted with spaghetti sauce. So are the walls. The child’s face is streaked with tears. The book gets intense from there…

His First Choice is Book Eight in the bestselling Where Secrets Are Safe series. This series has just gained critical acclaim as ‘an instrument of change’ and is set to be presented at Sheffield in the UK in June.

Please share the opening lines of this book:

“MS. HAMILTON? This is Mara Noble calling from Busy Little Minds preschool…”
“Yes, Mara.” As a social worker employed by California Social Services in the child welfare department, Lacey Hamilton had familiarized herself with the reputations and locations of all of the child care facilities and schools in her district of Santa Raquel. Busy Little Minds was one of the best rated for both intellectual and emotional development.
“What can I do for you?” While there was kindness in her words, there was no smile attached. If Busy Little Minds was calling her, chances were a serious issue was at hand.


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • My husband owns a home repair business and all of the construction facts are things I’ve learned from him.
  • I’ve always wanted a sister – and to be a twin – and so I wrote Lacey and Kacey!
  • Though we lived in Phoenix, Arizona, my daughter had a couple of experiences with the entertainment industry in LA as a child. She appeared in a number with Jerry Lewis on his telethon. She also did a national commercial. The insights for Lacey and Kacey’s childhood came from my time spent as a ‘stage mom.’


Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

My characters always surprise me! I am a panster – meaning I write by the seat of my pants. I start out with a very basic summary and just sit down and let the people tell their stories. I don’t really know them until I start the book. I write the entire thing before I do any edits because I can’t revise what I don’t know. By the time the book is done, I know them! Jem is my personal star in this book – not as an author, but as a reader. I fell in love with him. His story, while unique to him, is so profound, and far too real for many men in our society. It’s a story that they usually can’t, or won’t tell. They are the silent victims. And Kacey…I see more of me than I’d like in her. I love the way she finally dared to be number one!


If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

The scene where Lacey shows up unannounced at Jem’s home one evening, investigating a report of child abuse she’d just received from his four year old son’s daycare.

“Is your son here?”

“Of course he’s here. He lives here.”

“May I see him?”

Frowning, the man studied her. “I need to see some picture identification. Anyone can have cards printed up.”

Reaching into her black strapped leather satchel, she pulled out her badge and handed it to him.

Apparently he was cautious by nature, too.

Or stalling while he tried to figure out what to do?

Nodding, he handed the card back to her. “You said you had a phone call.”

Someone was tapping a rhythm—thump, thump, thump.

She nodded, taking a step toward the sound. “May I see your son?”

“Of course you can. But I’d like to know why first.”

“Clap along…nah nah nah nah das what you wanna do…” The faint sound of the childish voice interrupted them from the distance and Lacey stared in the direction her feet wanted her to go.

“Pharrell Williams,” she said. The song, “Happy,” was one she played full blast in her car on those days when her job seemed heavier than she was.

The tapping continued, not at all in rhythm with the words. The tune wasn’t bad, though.

“He’s a little offbeat,” Jeremiah Bridges said. “And he’s supposed to be eating, so I need to get back to him before I have spaghetti sauce splattered on the walls in line with those beats.”

The sounds continued. And Lacey’s suspicious mind wondered if Mr. Bridges had somehow triggered his son’s impromptu performance for her benefit. Except that he’d have had no way to do so. He hadn’t known she was coming. No one outside the logbook in the office had.


What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

I want them to feel as though they made good choices to spend their precious time reading this book. I want them to know that no matter how horrible the circumstance, how hard life can be even for good people, that there is always hope. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel if we keep walking and keep our eyes open. That there is always a way out. And that love is for everyone, not just the lucky ones.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?

I am currently working on Kacey’s story! She is the TV star identical twin sister to Lacey, the heroine in His First Choice. I have nine releases in 2016. Next up is:

6/28 Bestselling Author Collection with Heather Graham – a reissue of our books Strangers in Paradise and Sheltered in His Arms.
6/28 Audio book release of Sheltered in His Arms – A single title release connected to my bestselling 14 book Superromance series, Shelter Valley Stories.
7/1 The Promise He Made Her – Book 9 in Where Secrets Are Safe
8/1 For Love Or Money – Harlequin Heartwarming – The first book in a new series, Family Secrets, that revolves around a cooking show where contestants compete with their secret family recipes. Each book also revolves around a family secret that directly effects the protagonists.
10/1 A Heartwarming Holiday – an anthology of brand new holiday novellas from Harlequin Heartwarming authors
11/1 Her Soldier’s Baby – Harlequin Heartwarming – The second book in my Family Secrets series.
11/1 – Untitled Heartwarming Thanksgiving anthology – 13 Thanksgiving themes novels by Harlequin Heartwarming authors.
Already released this year is Love By Association, 3/1 – Harlequin Superromance – Book 7 in Where Secrets Are Safe.

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Set of the first three books in the Where Secrets Are Safe series – Wife By Design, Once A Family, and Husband By Choice. (eBook or print, US only if print)


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: If you knew something that would hurt someone you care about, would you tell them? Or try to protect them from ever finding out?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt from His First Choice:

JEM DIDN’T SLEEP. Not a wink. He’d start to doze off and every single time he’d jerk awake—his heart pounding with dread.

How could he prove that he wouldn’t hurt his son? Not ever? No matter what?

Who was saying that he had?

Or had that even been said? At three in the morning he made his third trip—he was only allowing himself one an hour, as if that small bit of self-control was going to prove something to someone—to his son’s room to look in on the sleeping boy.

Levi had always been a back sleeper. Open to the world had always been Jem’s estimation of his son’s slumber habit. And there he was, sprawled with abandon, arms and legs spread, covers tangled around his lower torso, giving his all to sleep just as he gave that same zest for life in whatever he approached while awake.

The thick white plaster on that tiny arm gave Jem pause. As it had every single time he’d laid eyes on it since the doctor had put it there. He wanted to take Levi’s pain, to slay every dragon that attempted to enter his son’s life.

He couldn’t even prevent a broken bone. The helplessness that came with that realization wasn’t welcome. Or to be tolerated.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

The best decision they’ll ever make

Lacey Hamilton is used to living in the background. Overshadowed her entire life, she stepped out of the Hollywood limelight and into the role she’s meant to play: a counselor, part of the High Risk Team started by The Lemonade Stand women’s shelter in Santa Raquel.

Her caseload leads her to the doorstep of Jeremiah “Jem” Bridges to rescue a little boy. She’s not supposed to fall in love with the rugged construction worker and his adorable son. Love and duty, though, don’t always agree. Especially when a truth is uncovered that neither she nor Jem is prepared to face.
Book Links:

You can find HIS FIRST CHOICE at GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleHarlequin

Kindle Fire with Six Pre-loaded TTQ Books 
(books 1-6 from Where Secrets are Safe series) US only. Ends August 31st. ENTER HERE

Meet the Author:

Tara Taylor QuinnThe author of more than 70 original novels, in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with over six million copies sold. A 2015 RITA finalist Tara appears frequently on bestseller lists, including #1 placement on Amazon lists, and multiple showings on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller list. She has appeared on national and local TV across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning.

Tara is a supporter of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know might be a victim of domestic violence in the United States, please contact 1-800-799-7233.





49 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: His First Choice by Tara Taylor Quinn”

    • Tara Taylor Quinn

      It’s definitely situational, but so often we tend to try to protect those we love from pain. Sometimes, in the end, it causes more pain. Sometimes, it was the right thing to do. So confusing…

    • Tara Taylor Quinn

      This is what I think, too, but I have to caveat that with – close and real friends. For me, I only speak when it’s a heart situation. Otherwise I tend to think it’s not my business. I sometimes get called on the carpet for that. But…when do you distinguish between being gossipy and sticking your nose in, or truly helping?

  1. Patricia B.

    Thank you for the excerpts. This is an important issue and often one that gets innocent people in trouble. It is too easy for an observer to misinterpret something and often hard to prove oneself innocent of charges. Too often well meaning parents who love their children and are doing the best they can end up separated from their children and trying to defend themselves. At the same time, children are left with or returned to abusive parents and will suffer the consequences.
    I would try to protect those I know and love. Sometimes secrets need to be kept. Sometimes, you reach a point that secrets must be told and hope the hurt isn’t too deep.

    • Tara Taylor Quinn

      Patricia, you hit it right on. Sometimes people lash out with accusation without even seeming to care about the lives that will be forever changed. I’ve seen that happen first hand. And yet, I’ve also been a victim who didn’t speak, and for whom no one else spoke. I think the answer lies in that one close friendship, or relationship, or, if you’re lucky counselor, who can reach your heart of hearts and help you see – and then stand with you as you struggle for the strength to move forward. For the children, it’s just so hard. There’s a story of that in the news right now. An uncle had custody. Parent got custody back. Uncle stole child. It sounds like he’s a pedaphile, but what if he’s an uncle who knows that child’s parent is not healthy for her? What if he knows more than the state knows? But then again, if the little girl is in trouble and believes there’s no way out but to stay with her uncle…it breaks my heart as we wait to hear if she’s okay.

  2. nicholskathy

    That’s a hard question. It would depend on the circumstance/situation. If it’s something they really need to hear even if it’s hurtful.

  3. Kate Sparks

    I am not able to make a decision without more information of the circumstances. My brother-in-law was reported to the USAF base because someone overheard him saying that ‘he was going to beat’ his daughter…. they were racing down a hallway in the married housing unit of the base… he wasn’t going to strike/hit his daughter, he was going to make it to the end of the hallway before she did… see how something overheard was misinterpreted….???

    • Tara Taylor Quinn

      Oh my word, I am so so so sorry to hear this. And this is the crux of a problem I don’t know how to fix. I know of a situation as well – a young man’s life could have been ruined – and yet, so many times, victims are hurt because everyone is afraid they are wrong, or afraid to get involved. I wish we all had crystal balls…or perfect discernment.

  4. lraines78

    I think it would depend on the situation. I did tell a good friend of mine that her boyfriend asked another girl out because she thought he was “the one” and I felt she should know. It was hard telling her but she was glad I could be honest with her.

  5. jTeresa Williams

    My first choice would be to protect the person but that can come back to bite you in the butt. If they find out another way and that you knew all along

  6. kermitsgirl

    It would definitely depend on the situation and the person. For example, I knew my best friend’s (now-ex) fiance was using drugs, but didn’t say a word to her. She discovered it on her own, gave him an ultimatum to get help which he failed, and broke off the wedding. When I admitted I knew, she was thankful I hadn’t said anything because it would’ve made her mad at me, when her anger needed to be focused at the source. Anyone else, I would’ve said something, but I knew how she would react.

    • Tara Taylor Quinn

      You were a close enough friend to be able to discern. You two are lucky to have each other! And you could be there for her when she did find out. Sometimes people do have to discover things on their own. You can tell them, but they stand by the one they love, having faith, being loyal. It’s so hard to stand back and watch and wait, but sometimes that’s the only way to be a friend. Or a parent…

  7. Michele Hayes

    It depends, if it’s something they would or could find out anyway I would probably tell them. If not, then no, I would try to protect them from it.

    • Tara Taylor Quinn

      That’s an interesting twist to the question…if they could find out on their own…I wouldn’t always think about that, but it does put a different light on the responsibility on both sides of the question. Would it hurt them more to find out and know you knew and didn’t say anything? Or should you let them find out on their own so they believe it, but be there to pick up the pieces…

  8. Emma

    It would depend on the situation . I am looking forward to reading His First Choice. Thank you for the opportunity to win. Have a wonderful week.

  9. Tara Taylor Quinn

    So interesting that we’re split pretty evenly on this – and yet all agree, too. It all depends on the circumstances. And yet some would automatically tell and some would tell only if they have no other choice. I ask myself this question a lot. Not just in relation to the types of circumstances in this book, but in relation to so many things. Take, for instance, poppy seed cake. It was made for me. I don’t like it. The whole thing about seeds in my cake…just didn’t work for me. I didn’t choose not to like it. I wanted to like it. I loved the gesture. And so I was appreciative and thankful. And for years, got poppy seed cake. THEN, the person making it found out I don’t like it. Wow. What a mess. I’d been leading her on, in essence, lying to her for years. Plus there were years worth of wasted cakes. And yet…what she’d really been giving, and what I’d been accepting, wanting and needing, was her love. Still haven’t landed on tell or don’t tell in a situation like that…

  10. Cathy Phillips

    It depends on the situation. If it is something they really need to know, I would tell them.

  11. laurieg72

    If the information would hurt someone I love I would not tell them. I would definitely try to protect them from finding it out.

  12. Amanda Thompson

    My first instinct would be to protect them but like others have said, it depends on the situation and the severity of said situation.

  13. tlrosado

    It definitely depends on what the outcome would achieve. I would NOT lie, but would avoid if the truth doesn’t have life-altering consequences.

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