Behind the Book Cover – To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham

Behind the Book Cover – To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham

If you’ve ever read a Mills & Boon book you’ve probably wondered at some point where those cover stars come from? Does a man like that actually exist and where on earth did he find full Viking attire? Well yes, they do exist and that is their real hair. This Viking in particular was cast for the front cover of Michelle Willingham‘s latest, aptly-named, sizzling romance To Tempt a Viking. Our very lucky author went along for the photoshoot…here’s what happens behind the book cover.

On June 24, I had the experience of a lifetime. I was allowed to watch the photo shoot of book #2 in my Forbidden Vikings series, To Tempt a Viking. (Photos courtesy of Jon Wayne Brown). In Toronto, I met the cover model, Taylor David, along with the make-up artist Jukka and the stylist Marie-Eve. We talked about Taylor’s character and I was asked, do you want scars? Battle wounds? Bearded or clean-shaven? To ensure that the book cover was unique, we made some changes to Taylor’s hair, pulling it back and adding war braids.

Then it was time to dress our Viking! Taylor put on a pair of leather leggings and an amber-colored shirt that looked as if it was made of a fishing net. He also wore a black leather tunic with red embossed cross studs.


Metal arm bands were added, along with a helmet as a prop. Now we were ready for the photoshoot!


Many of his facial expressions went beyond the fierce warrior and became more similar to a wounded hero or a tormented man. Midway through the shoot, he changed costumes. Often over 600 photographs are taken during a single photoshoot. Ninety-five might make it to the next round. Even the slightest change in angle or a costume detail can make the difference on whether a photograph makes the final cut. There were so many good ones, it was difficult to choose! I had several that I liked, but they chose one that was evocative of a Viking warrior after a shipwreck.


After the final photograph is selected, it’s sent to an illustrator who fills in the setting. Robert Papp created the background, and below you can see the final illustration chosen to be used in the cover.


The Mills & Boon branding and imprint are overlaid on top of that, as well as the title and author name.
Here’s the final cover of To Tempt a Viking


If you’d like to see a video of the photo shoot, you can watch it all come together here:

More details about the photo shoot are available on my website.


Book one of the Forbidden Vikings series, To Sin with a Viking, is available right here and you can read To Tempt a Viking right here

What’s your favorite part of the book cover process? Do you love a Viking hero too? Let me know your thoughts!