For value and quality, Rotel is a good bet. I've got a Rotel 1050 receiver that sounds much, much better than I expected when I bought it to replace McCormack separates. I made the switch for, essentially, the same reasons you're considering a receiver, moving the system into a much smaller space than I'd had available before and using the receiver as a 'transition' until I figured out what I wanted next.
I don't have any experience with the Kestrel 2's but did buy a pair of the original Kestrels for a friend and helped him set them up with other gear. They were not at all sensitive to positioning, compared to other speakers I've owned. I kept moving them out into the room and his wife kept pushing them back against the walls and further apart. They sounded great no matter where they were.
I'm also fond of every speaker I've heard from Soliloquy and Proac but there are dozens of other options, as well. All the Meadowlark speakers are very well thought of and, unless you can audition other lines you think you might be interested in, they're a great place to start.