Tara Martin was a core member of the original Pine Valley teen set. A young girl when she and her father Joe had moved from California (following her mother's death), Tara was a very busy and happy high school senior. Her best friends were Chuck Tyler and Phil Brent. Tara and Phil were in love and after graduation, quickly progressed from dating to marriage plans. The first wave of trouble hit when Phil found out he had been lied to about being adopted. His adoptive father was killed in a car crash as a result of the fallout of this lie, and Phil was guilt-ridden. Believing he would hurt anyone he came in contact with, Phil dumped Tara and moved to New York City. He contracted amnesia after an accident and by the time he got back to town, Tara was dating Chuck, who had also fallen in love with her. Phil regained his memory but didn't want to ruin his best friend Chuck's happiness. On the day of the wedding Chuck collapsed from kidney failure. As Chuck slowly regained his strength due to his love for Tara, she and Phil kept vigil over his bedside while their own love re-blossomed. They swore they'd tell Chuck the truth as soon as he was well. Unfortunately, Phil was sent a draft notice. The night before Phil was to be shipped off to Vietnam, a snowstorm hit and he and Tara were trapped in a deserted church. They performed their own private ceremony, then made love in a nearby residence. With Phil gone, Tara waited for Chuck's recovery. In spite of her guilty conscience, she was overjoyed when she discovered she was pregnant. Glee turned to sorrow when Phil's mother broke horrible news -- Phil was missing in action!
Tara broke the news of her night with Phil to Chuck. Chuck pledged to go on with their relationship and tell everyone that they had been secretly married two weeks earlier, which would legitimize her unborn child. Tara agreed, and Pine Valley believed their story. Months passed and Phillip Tyler was born. While Phillip was still a baby, Phil was miraculously found alive in Vietnam. He returned home, blindsided that his soul mate had married another man and was raising his son. Phil fought for her, but Tara stayed with Chuck out of obligation. Her jealousy flared when Phil carried on an affair with and married her old rival Erica Kane. When Erica was in a mental institution, Little Phillip fell ill. Only his father's blood type could save him. Phil was asked to donate blood, and he gladly agreed. Quickly, he realized Phillip was actually his and not Chuck's, but kept silent as to not ruin the boy's happiness. Yet, even as Erica refused to divorce Phil, Tara could no longer put Chuck through a sham marriage. Even if she did love him in her own way, her true love was for Phil. After Erica conceded defeat, Phil and Tara were finally married.
Tara became pregnant, but spent most of her time worrying about Phil's dangerous job as a police officer, Little Phillip's well-being, and Chuck's new marriage to ex-hooker Donna. Phillip couldn't stand Phil for breaking up his mother and "real" dad, and after much insistence, was allowed to live with Chuck and Donna. Chuck's grandmother Phoebe hounded and pressured Tara so much on this matter that she miscarried her baby. At the hospital, while delirious, she called out Chuck's name. Phil's frustration grew and grew. His son even changed his name to Charlie in honor of the man he believed to be his biological father. Tara wanted to tell Charlie the truth, but he had severe asthma and any great shock could adversely affect his health. Charlie stole hubcaps and set fire to an abandoned car. Phil insisted he be arrested, but Tara told him their marriage would be over if Phil didn't back down. Phil arrested Charlie and moved out of the house. Tara and Chuck worked on their son's problems, and fell in love. As guilty as they felt, that didn't stop them from having an affair. Only when Donna found out she was several months pregnant did Tara and Chuck end their affair. Around the same time, in the midst of a huge social gala, Phoebe found out from Erica that Phil was Charlie's biological father. She drunkenly blurted the news out to the press. The huge secret was finally known to all, and slowly, Charlie began to accept Phil. Soon after, Phil risked his life to save Chuck from psychotic Ray Gardner. Although Tara was still deeply in love with Chuck, Phil's heroics reminded her of how much he truly meant to her. They renewed their vows and moved to Washington, D.C. after Phil accepted a job with the Federal Narcotics Bureau. Tara and Charlie returned several months later while Phil was working on a secret government mission. He was killed in a plane explosion soon after. After a grieving period, Tara began dating school psychologist Jim Jefferson. They married and moved to Portland.
Aside from a brief visit in 1985, Tara was not seen again until November, 1995. She and Jim (who had moved to Chicago) were divorcing, and the resulting stress in their marriage had caused their teenage daughter Kelsey to flee to Pine Valley. Kelsey and Tara had many issues because Kelsey was convinced her mother resented her closeness to her [Kelsey's] father. Tara was clearly flustered by this as well as her daughter being in the late stages of pregnancy, but tried to support her daughter's plans to give the child up for adoption and stay in town. After bidding her family a warm goodbye, Tara returned to Chicago.